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Financing watch: Startup funding, fintech deals, Cemex’s VC move and more

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Financing watch: Startup funding, fintech deals, Cemex’s VC move and more

Latin American startups collected US$2.18bn in investments during the first half of the year, up 41% on the same period 2023, according to the latest report by the Distrito platform.

The amount raised through 377 rounds is said to be the highest since the second half of 2022. 

More late-stage deals and heated transactions involving fintechs were the chief drivers, according to the startup dealmaking tracker.

Brazilian startups accounted for over US$928mn of the total. Considering M&As only, Distrito tracked 118 deals involving LatAm startups, led by fintechs, deeptechs and retailtechs.

Chile's Retorna gets seed funding for remittances

Chilean remittances-focused fintech Retorna raised US$1.2mn in a seed round led by LatAm-focused fund Impacta VC.

The round also saw participation from Amplifica, Morro Ventures and Colectivo Jaguara, among other angel investors. Retorna said it will use the proceeds for customer acquisition and retention.

Founded in 2018, the fintech says it facilitates money transfers between countries through fast and secure transactions and low rates. 

Retorna is Impacta VC’s ninth startup investment to date.

Mexico’s Ximple secures first funding

 Mexico’s Ximple, a new provider of digital financial services, secured US$2.7mn in a pre-seed round to expand its services.

The round saw the participation of Clocktower Technology Ventures, BoostCapital Partners, Graph Ventures, 99 Startups and Lotux.VC, reported media outlet Tekios.

Based in Mexico City and launched this year, Ximple offers a digital tool to provide access to credit to families and entrepreneurs excluded from the traditional financial system due to lack of proof of income and credit history.

Stori pledges investments of US$380mn in Mexico

Also in Mexico, fintech unicorn Stori pledged investments of 7bn pesos (US$380mn) in the next two years in the country.

The announcement was made this week by Mexican foreign minister Alicia Bárcena in an event with the fintech founder, Marlene Garayzar.

Launched in 2020, Stori offers financial products and services to more than 2.7mn Mexicans. It was the first in the sector created and led by a woman.

In 2022, the fintech hit unicorn status after raising a further US$150mn.

Brazil's Cora gets financing permit upgrade

Brazilian fintech Cora received clearance from the country’s central bank to operate more broadly as a financing company.

Its license upgrade to Sociedade de Crédito, Financiamento e Investimento (SCFI) allows the company to offer investment options and loans.

Currently, the fintech provides credit and debit cards and a digital account, without maintenance fees, to over 1.4mn micro and small companies.

Fresh money flows to Argentina's Moonflow

Argentine startup Moonflow closed a US$1.74mn seed financing led by TheVentureCity, with the participation of previous investors Salkantay Ventures, Amador Holdings and Morro Ventures, reported Startups Latam.

The round adds to a first investment in December 2023 of US$700,000.

Proceeds will go to accelerate product development and improve its corporate accounts receivable management platform.

Cemex Ventures cements new startup investment

Cemex Ventures, the corporate venture capital (CVC) arm of Mexican cement company Cemex, made a second investment in Chilean startup ObraLink.

In 2022, Cemex Ventures participated in a US$2mn round in the construtech. The amount of the new capital allocation was not disclosed. The group said it made the follow-on move because of ObraLink’s “significant success in the LatAm region and the competitive value it brings.”

ObraLink developed an easy-to-install technology to automate complicated processes and manual tasks in construction projects, such as progress tracking, planning and concrete strength monitoring, said Cemex Ventures.

Cemex tested ObraLink with a sample of customers in Mexico during an initial roll-out phase.

Algar Telecom taps three new startups

Algar Telecom's open innovation unit Venture Builder added three new startups to its portfolio: Cadex, Dot a Dot and Guia da Alma.

The partnerships, which do not involve equity or VC, were signed after approval by a board of executives from various areas of Algar, who identified synergies with the companies' businesses and the relevance of the solutions for the market, said the Brazilian telco.

Cadex is a georeferencing platform for power poles and overground networks. Dot a Dot is a Latin American provider of managed internet solutions, SD-WAN and cloud connectivity. And Guia da Alma integrates traditional and complementary therapies into its platform.

IT Investimentos advisor on Netsulminas-Sky deal

M&A boutique IT Investimentos was the exclusive financial advisor for the acquisition of Brazilian internet service provider Netsulminas by Vrio’s Sky, controlled by Argentina’s Werthein group.

The deal was announced in May by Sky and is part of its push to gain muscle in the fiber broadband segment.

Founded in 2000, Netsulminas has around 10,000 FTTH (fiber to the home) customers in four cities in Minas Gerais state.

Itaú Unibanco snaps up retail software assets

Itaú Unibanco is acquiring certain retail software assets from NCR Brasil. Values were not disclosed.

NCR Brasil provides self-service financial access for banks and consumers. In a statement, Latin America’s largest private sector bank said the acquired operations will be transferred to a new company that will become an integral part of the Itaú Unibanco group.

Among these operations is Scope, an electronic funds transfer solution, which the company says facilitates payments and automatically integrates and reconciles them, bringing efficiency to commercial establishments and agile and secure transactions.

“This acquisition will allow us to expand the portfolio of solutions and services for our customers, around Conexão Itaú, a strategic initiative that aims to strengthen partnerships with more than 100 technology and commercial automation companies,” said Angelo Russomanno, director of network and cash management at Itaú Unibanco. 

Brazil advances OpenRan project

The OpenRAN@Brasil program, led by RNP in partnership with CPQD, selected six startups for its testbed based on open and disaggregated networks.

The companies are developing 5G applications or applications that can benefit from 5G technology.

The selected companies were Acta Robotics (Industry 4.0); Anilx (telecoms, data collection from ISPs' 5G routers); Cromai (agtech); Pix Force (industry 4.0); Quickium (industry 4.0); and Ring-0 Networks (cybersecurity).

They will receive technical training, financial support for project development and access to terminals for experimentation (5G phones, augmented reality glasses, etc.) available on the testbed facilities.

Overall, the call received 50 proposals, said CPQD.

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