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Start-ups

Southeast Asia ride-hailing start-up Grab raises US$2 billion to finance regional move into on-demand local services

Grab’s existing shareholders include Japan’s SoftBank Group Corp, China’s Didi Chuxing and Uber. That major investors from around the globe are backing Grab now may be a signal of growing interest in the region

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 02 August, 2018, 3:57pm
UPDATED : Friday, 03 August, 2018, 3:46pm

Singapore’s Grab raised US$1 billion from financial investors on top of the US$1 billion it secured from Toyota Motor Corp, as Southeast Asia’s leading ride-hailing start-up expands its geographic reach and moves into services like food delivery and payments.

The start-up, founded by Anthony Tan and Tan Hooi Ling, increased its financing round to US$2 billion with money from Ping An Capital and Lightspeed Venture Partners, as it wages a costly battle against Indonesia’s Go-Jek. The Jakarta-based rival is expanding outside its home turf and has announced it would invest US$500 million to enter Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines.

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“A significant portion of the capital that we’ve raised will go towards Indonesia, which is our largest market,” President Ming Maa said in an interview. “It’s a sizable market and our investors want us to continue investing.”

Maa said business is increasing sharply with growing demand.

“We are on track to hit US$1 billion revenue” in 2018, he said. “We are the first company in this region to hit US$1 billion revenue within the technology start-up space.”

Still, Maa said the company has not begun to home in on a date for an initial public offering, despite peers like Uber making such plans.

Grab’s Uber deal still faces scrutiny amid competition concerns

“An IPO is not a short-term objective right now or something that we obsess over,” he said. “We will certainly go public at some point in the future. Short-term, what we are focused on is just out-serving our customers.”

Grab’s existing shareholders include Japan’s SoftBank Group Corp, China’s Didi Chuxing and Uber. That major investors from around the globe are backing Grab now may be a signal of growing interest in the region.

“These institutional investors are literally aggregating capital from around the world purely looking for financial returns, so for them to divert money into this part of the world, it’s a big signal,” said Kuo-Yi Lim, managing partner at Monk’s Hill Ventures in Singapore. “It’s a conviction on Grab and for Southeast Asia’s tech ecosystem.”

Toyota’s June investment in Grab marked the largest ever bet by an automaker on the ride-hailing business. The deal was double the size of General Motors’ investment in Lyft in 2016, highlighting Toyota chief executive Akio Toyoda’s determination to expand into mobility services. Grab was valued at just over US$10 billion in the transaction, a person familiar with the matter said at the time.

Go-Jek steps up rivalry with Grab as it expands in Southeast Asia

Go-Jek’s backers, which include Chinese internet giant Tencent Holdings and Warburg Pincus, have offered at least US$1 billion of new funding to accelerate its overseas expansion, people with knowledge of the matter said in June. Go-Jek is also broadening its range of services, acquiring three local financial-technology companies in December as it moves into digital payments.

“We love competition,” said Maa. “We have out-competed much bigger companies than Go-Jek -- this is par for the course.”