Grab, a Southeast Asian Ride-Hailing Giant, Raises $1.5 Billion

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SHANGHAI — As Uber and Lyft prepare to become the world’s first publicly traded ride-hailing companies, their peers overseas are continuing to raise huge amounts of money through private investments.

Grab, which is based in Singapore and serves eight countries in Southeast Asia, announced on Wednesday that it had secured nearly $1.5 billion from the SoftBank Vision Fund, the technology investing arm of the Japanese conglomerate.

With this latest funding, Grab said it had raised more than $4.5 billion in its current financing round from investors that include Toyota, Hyundai, Microsoft and Booking Holdings, the online travel services company. Grab is now valued at around $14 billion, according to a person briefed on the matter who was not authorized to speak publicly.

The seven-year-old company’s diverse roster of backers is an indication of the breadth of its ambitions. Grab hopes that people will use its app not only to get from place to place, but also to order meals, send packages, pay for things offline, book hotel rooms and more.

Last year, Grab acquired Uber’s Southeast Asia operations, a move aimed at expanding its presence in both food delivery and rides. Grab said that between March 2018, when the tie-up with Uber was announced, and the end of last year, its transport revenue almost doubled, while its food-delivery revenue grew 45 times.

The “super-app” concept is already well established in China. WeChat drew in users with its messaging and social media capabilities, but is now just as importantly a tool for making payments, playing games, signing into gyms and more. Meituan, which began life as a Groupon-like service for buying vouchers from local merchants, branched out into takeout delivery, bike rentals, movie tickets and a host of other services.

Grab’s main rival in Southeast Asia, Go-Jek, has also made its name catering to a variety of needs within its app.

The new pile of cash from SoftBank deepens the Japanese investor’s stakes in the worldwide ride-hailing industry. It made a first big bet on Grab in 2017, and has also invested in Uber, Didi Chuxing of China and Ola of India.



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