Grab’s Nasdaq debut will set the tone for Southeast Asian tech announcements

FILE PHOTO: A man walks past a Grab office in Singapore on March 26, 2018. REUTERS / Edgar Su

By Anshuman Daga and Aradhana Aravindan

SINGAPORE (Reuters) -Grab, Southeast Asia’s largest rideshare and delivery company, made its market debut Thursday after a record $ 40 billion merger with a special-purpose acquisition company ( SPAC), in a list that will set the tone for other offering regions.

The backdoor listing on the Nasdaq marks the culmination of the nine-year-old Singaporean company which started as a rideshare app and now operates in 465 cities in eight countries, offering food deliveries, payments, insurance and investment products.

Grab’s competitors, including regional internet company Sea and Indonesian group GoTo, are also gaining momentum, with the region’s internet economy set to double to $ 360 billion in gross merchandise volume by 2025.

Grab was founded by Anthony Tan, its CEO, and Tan Hooi Ling, who developed the business from an idea for a business competition at Harvard Business School in 2011.

CEO Tan, 39, expanded Grab to a regional operation with a range of services, after launching as a taxi app in Malaysia in 2012. He then moved his headquarters to Singapore.

“What we’ve shown the world is that local tech companies can develop cutting edge technology that can compete globally, even when international players are in town… we can compete and win,” said Tan to Reuters.

He said Grab’s listing would help showcase the opportunity for investors in Southeast Asia, a region of around 650 million people.

Grab’s list brings a payday boon to early funders such as SoftBank Group Corp and Chinese ridesharing giant Didi Chuxing, which invested as early as 2014.

They were later joined by others, such as Toyota Motor, Microsoft and the Japanese bank MUFG. Uber became a shareholder of Grab in 2018 after selling its Southeast Asia business to Grab after a five-year battle.

Analysts see room for many players in Southeast Asia’s fragmented food delivery and financial services markets, but the road to profitability can be long.

In September, Grab lowered its adjusted net sales forecast for the full year, citing new uncertainty over pandemic restrictions on movement.

Third-quarter revenue fell 9% and its adjusted loss before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) widened 66% to $ 212 million. Grab said GMV jumped 32% in the quarter to a record $ 4 billion.

It aims to become profitable on the basis of EBITDA in 2023.

Grab said it has completed its business combination with SPAC, Altimeter Growth Corp. Grab will begin trading on the Nasdaq under the ticker symbol “GRAB”.

Grab raised $ 4.5 billion alongside the SPAC transaction, including $ 750 million from Silicon Valley technology investor Altimeter Capital Management under a deal reached in April.

(Reporting by Anshuman Daga and Aradhana Aravindan; Editing by Edmund Blair and Stephen Coates)

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