Indonesian unicorn Traveloka is in advanced talks to list in the US through a merger with Bridgetown Holdings Ltd., a special purpose acquisition vehicle (SPAC) backed by billionaires Richard Li and Peter Thiel, sources have confirmed to DealStreetAsia.
The development was first reported by Bloomberg on Friday.
According to an industry executive who spoke to DealStreetAsia on the condition of anonymity, Traveloka had been set to raise funding at a valuation of $4 billion before the COVID-19 crisis struck. However, as the pandemic ravaged the travel industry, the company found itself valued at a lower $2.75 billion during negotiations with potential investors.
A SPAC listing at this point when Traveloka’s business has nearly returned to pre-COVID levels could see the company commanding a valuation of around $5 billion, the executive said.
Such a valuation could mark a lucrative exit for Traveloka’s investors, including Expedia, GIC Pte, East Ventures, Sequoia Capital and Global Founders Capital.
In its report, Bloomberg said the move could also involve Traveloka raising between $500 million and $750 million through a private investment in public equity (PIPE) deal.
In February, Traveloka co-founder and CEO Ferry Unardi had told Bloomberg that the company was planning to list in the US this year to raise funds using a SPAC.
Should it be sealed soon, the deal would make the nine-year-old company the first Southeast Asian unicorn to go public. Its local peers Tokopedia and Gojek, as well as Singapore’s Grab, have also been reported to be pursuing a listing on the public markets in the US.
The company had started laying the ground for an IPO as early as 2017 and has emerged stronger after the pandemic forced it and other businesses to become leaner, one of its investors has said.
In the midst of the pandemic in July, Traveloka managed to raise a much-needed injection of capital in a $250-million round led by an undisclosed global financial institution, believed to be Qatar Investment Authority (QIA), and joined by existing investors including EV Growth.
Over the past nine years, Traveloka has expanded into seven countries and has acquired three direct competitors in three different markets – PegiPegi in Indonesia, Mytour in Vietnam, and TravelBook in the Philippines – from Japanese firm Recruit Holdings for $66.8 million.