Grab raises $750 million to take on Uber in Southeast Asia

Commuters wait for a train next to Grab transport booking service app advertisements at a train station in Singapore February 10, 2016.REUTERS/Edgar Su/File Photo

Commuters wait for a train next to Grab transport booking service app advertisements at a train station in Singapore February 10, 2016.REUTERS/Edgar Su/File Photo

Grab, the biggest rival to ride-sharing service Uber Technologies Inc [UBER.UL] in Southeast Asia, has raised $750 million in a funding round, turning up the heat on the U.S. firm now seeking to expand in the region after exiting China.

The successful cash-injection just a month after Indonesian peer Go-Jek raised $550 million highlights the intensifying competition in the region, as Uber shifts its focus following a deal to sell its China operations into Didi Chuxing.

Four-year-old Grab said it planned to expand its services in Southeast Asia through the funding round, which was led by Japan’s SoftBank Group (9984.T) with new and existing investors.

The region has become a key battleground for ride-hailing firms thanks to a burgeoning middle class as well as a youthful, internet-savvy demographic.

Since leaving China in August, Uber is even more focused on Southeast Asia, doubling down on resources, staffing and technology deployed there, a source familiar with Uber’s plans has said.

Specifically, the company is refocusing more than 150 engineers to work on its Southeast Asian operations and hiring more engineers in India, the source said. It was also working on making sure its maps fit the region.

The latest funding values Grab at over $3 billion, a source familiar with the matter said.

It increases its total capital position to over $1 billion, the company said without naming other investors in the round. A Grab representative told Reuters institutional investors from the United States and China took part.

Uber had no comment on Grab’s fund-raising.

BUFFERING

Grab says it has 95 percent market share in third-party taxi-hailing services, while its private-car business has more than half of the Southeast Asian market.

In addition to expanded ride-hailing services, Grab said it planned to invest in mobile payments capabilities in a region with low banking and credit card penetration and limited cashless payment options.

“Grab is using this funding to try to diversify because the ride-hailing industry, in terms of profitability, is still a big question. Grab need to hedge risks and diversify,” said Rushabh Doshi, an analyst with researcher Canalys.

Source: Reuters

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