South Korean retailer Shinsegae Group has invested an undisclosed amount in Southeast Asian ride-hailing superapp Grab, according to multiple local reports.
The funding has been reportedly routed through the retailer’s newly formed corporate venture arm Signet Partners, which has also invested in companies like the US-based fashion brand Entireworld, and fashion tech firm Ably Corporation in its home market.
According to The Korea Herald, it is Grab’s wide reach in Southeast Asia that caught the fancy of Shinsegae. The retailer continues to spot significant opportunities in the ride-hailer’s mobile platform adoption.
The report added that Shinsegae is scouting for investment opportunities in the startup ecosystem, both at its home and overseas overmarket, to expand its operations.
DealStreetAsia has reached out to Grab and Shinsegae for comment.
Singapore-headquartered Grab is no stranger to investments from corporate strategics, having attracted an impressive range of global investors such as Toyota, Hyundai, PayPal, Visa and MUFG Bank to its cap table.
This strategy of building synergistic partnerships in exchange for equity signals how Grab has been able to scale its operation to new markets by tapping on the expertise of overseas players.
The COVID pandemic does not seem to have affected Grab’s fundraising efforts.
Earlier this month, Grab secured a $2 billion term loan facility to strengthen its superapp ecosystem and diversify its finances. Going forward, the firm also plans to tap on exuberant US public markets to raise further capital, setting its sights on a US IPO listing in the second half of 2021.
The firm follows the path of many other Southeast Asian internet unicorns including Traveloka, Tokopedia and Gojek – all of them are looking to raise capital through the IPO route in the US.
Until now, NYSE-listed Sea Group’s access to US markets has meant that the internet juggernaut has been two steps ahead when it comes to fueling its own expansion in Southeast Asia, something which many tech unicorns do not yet have.
Sea Group, which owns Southeast Asia e-commerce giant Shopee, has already begun doubling down on sectors like fintech, having secured a digital bank licence in Singapore and acquiring Indonesian bank BKE to ramp up its digital payments arm in Southeast Asia.
Competition among Southeast Asia’s tech unicorns will be rife this year. Grab, Tokopedia, Gojek, among others, are also expected to collide in e-commerce and last-mile logistics as they fight for greater market share in the region in the coming months.