South Korean conglomerate SK Holdings is the latest to be revealed as an investor in Singapore-headquartered Grab’s latest funding round.
According to Korean media reports quoting an SK Holdings official, the chaebol joined the Southeast Asian ride-hailing major’s Series G funding round and acquired an undisclosed stake.
Grab had in July last year announced raising $2 billion in its Series G round led by SoftBank Group Corp and China’s Didi Chuxing, with plans to extend the round by an additional $500 million. In August, Toyota was revealed to have joined the round.
More recently, in January this year, Grab announced a strategic partnership with South Korean auto major Hyundai that entailed the latter investing in the former’s Series G round.
An email query to Grab by this portal on the reported investment by SK Holdings remained unanswered at the time of publishing.
Grab, which last week announced its plans to acquire rival Uber’s Southeast Asia operations, is reportedly in talks with Alibaba Group Holding Ltd to raise further funding. TechCrunch was the first to report the Chinese corporate giant’s interest in the Southeast Asian firm. According to its report, both parties initiated investment talks last year but these were put on the backburner due to Alibaba’s keenness to close an investment in Indonesia’s Tokopedia first.
Tokopedia, one of Indonesia’s largest e-commerce players, had been in talks with JD.com, backed by Alibaba rival Tencent, for fundraising last year. However, it was Alibaba, helped by a nudge from Tokopedia early backer SoftBank, that clinched the deal. In August, Tokopedia announced that it had raised a $1.1-billion funding round led by the Jack Ma-helmed firm and joined by undisclosed return backers.
SoftBank, whose wide-ranging investments often include backing startups that compete with each other, is no stranger to matchmaking. It is also believed to have brokered the latest Grab-Uber deal. An early investor in Grab, the Japanese corporate behemoth had recently picked up a nearly 15 per cent stake in the US ride-hailing major. The deal with Uber, which gives Grab an unassailable lead in Southeast Asia’s ride-hailing market, is now under review by the Competition Commission of Singapore.
The Japanese corporate giant, led by chairman and CEO Masayoshi Son, is also upending the startup funding landscape with its Vision Fund. With a target to raise $100 billion for technology investments, the fund had raised nearly $92 billion at the end of December 2017. A recent report in The Guardian, however, pointed out that the SoftBank Vision Fund is precluded from investing in ride-hailing startups. A little-known clause in the fund’s rulebook prevents it from picking stakes in P2P (peer-to-peer) ride-hailing firms such as Uber and Grab, the report said.