SoftBank’s Vision Fund companies are heading to SE Asia via Grab, says Ming Maa

Grab president Ming Maa
Grab's Ming Maa at DEALSTREETASIA's Asia PE-VC Summit 2018 in Singapore.

SoftBank Group plans to bring the portfolio companies of its $100-billion Vision Fund to Southeast Asia via Singapore-headquartered ride-hailing major Grab, according to Grab president Ming Maa.

He said it is part of the core strategy with SoftBank to create a “unicorn farm” by bringing them to the region through Grab’s platform.

“We are working on many, many different things. After our merger with Uber, we’ve introduced many other services. And recently we’ve tied up with Ping An Good Doctor and a few days ago, our alliance with Microsoft. Our core strategy with SoftBank is to create a unicorn farm [in Southeast Asia]. It is taking the unicorns in the Vision Fund and bringing them to Southeast Asia. There will be an explosion of partnerships in the next 12 to 24 months,” he said at a panel discussion at the South China Morning Post’s China Conference held in Kuala Lumpur.

SoftBank first invested $250 million in Grab in 2014, before making subsequent investments. It was recently reported to be in talks to invest another $500 million in the ride-hailing major’s ongoing funding round.

The Vision Fund’s sprawling portfolio includes Ping An Good Doctor, WeWork, Flipkart, Uber, OYO, Katerra, Open Door, Compass, Fanatics and Roivant. Of these, Uber has already exited Southeast Asia with the sale of its operations in the region earlier this year to Grab. WeWork, in which SoftBank is now reportedly eyeing a majority stake, has been aggressively expanding its presence in the region after launching in Singapore in January.

Grab, meanwhile, recently added Microsoft to its cap table. On October 9, the Singapore-headquartered company announced receiving an undisclosed investment from the US tech major in a deal that sees Grab adopting Microsoft Azure as its preferred platform for cloud services.

Other investors in Grab include Didi Chuxing, Toyota, OppenheimerFunds, Lightspeed Venture Partners and Macquarie Capital. Seeking to raise more than $3 billion by the end of this year in its current round, it has already announced securing $2 billion.

The ride-hailing startup has been ramping up its partnerships with players of various sectors from healthcare to grocery delivery and financial services. Some partnerships are formed through minority stake investments through its newly-formed venture arm, Grab Ventures.

This portal was the first to report that Grab picked up a minor stake in grocery delivery startup HappyFresh for its foray into the vertical via the launch of GrabFresh.

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Microsoft invests in Southeast Asian ride-hailing major Grab

SoftBank nearing deal to invest $500m in ride-hailing firm Grab