Indonesia’s travel booking unicorn Traveloka is nearing a deal to raise over $100 million in fresh funding from its existing investors, according to three industry executives aware of the development.
The largest travel aggregator in Southeast Asia was initially seeking to secure $500 million in funding, but its plan was derailed by the coronavirus pandemic that has brought travel to a halt globally. The economic disruption caused by the COVID-19 crisis also propelled the Indonesian company to seek a smaller financial lifeline from its existing investors.
Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund GIC Pte is leading the latest round, which is understood to be a combination of debt and equity financing. The round could be upsized to $150 million, said one of the industry executives who spoke to DealStreetAsia on the condition of anonymity.
Traveloka is also in talks with Qatar Investment Authority (QIA), the $320 billion sovereign wealth fund of the Gulf country, for additional funding, another executive said.
The negotiations are being helmed by the company’s chief strategy officer, Joydeep Chakraborty.
The Jakarta-based company had been valued at about $4 billion when it raised capital last year, but its fresh funding from existing investors comes at a lower valuation, according to industry executive aware of the developments.
Established as a flight booking platform in 2012, Traveloka today offers accommodation and transport reservations, experiences and activities, a restaurant directory, bill payments and top-ups, insurance services and a credit card.
The online travel unicorn offers its services in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, the Philippines, Singapore and Australia. It also runs a research and development centre in India.
The company, one of Indonesia’s most valuable startups, has raised over $900 million in funding to date. Its last known financing was a $420 million round led by GIC in 2019.
It had in 2017 raised a total of $500 million from American travel group Expedia, Chinese e-commerce giant JD.com, Hillhouse Capital, Sequoia Capital, and East Ventures.
The COVID-19 hit
The travel and hospitality industry has been among the sectors hit first and hardest by the coronavirus pandemic. Businesses are staring at widening revenue losses amid global travel curbs and a barrage of refund requests from travellers.
According to recent OECD estimates, the COVID-19 pandemic could cause anywhere between a 60 per cent and 80 per cent decline in international tourism economy this year, depending on the crisis duration and the speed of sectoral rebound.
Worst-case estimates by the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), which represents major global travel companies, indicate over 197 million job losses and a $5.5 trillion drop in the sector’s contribution to global GDP in the face of prolonged travel restrictions.
Companies such as Traveloka are, therefore, staring at a long trudge back to normalcy. Its loss-making operations, which it attributes to it still being “in growth mode,” further complicate matters.
According to corporate filings, Traveloka’s Singapore parent, Traveloka Pte. Ltd., reported a 76 per cent jump in revenue in 2018 to $184 million. However, it remains in the red as its total losses grew 12.5 per cent to $190 million. No data is available on its 2019 financial performance.
Airy is understood to have been incubated at Traveloka before it was spun off to run its course.
The Indonesian unicorn has also witnessed the departure of several executives, including chief technology officer Benjamin Mann, chief investment officer Hendrik Susanto, and Singapore and Malaysia head Halif Hamzah, in recent months.
Traveloka is seen as the strongest contender to become Indonesia’s first unicorn startup to list and had earlier indicated a preference for a dual listing at home and another destination such as the United States. Its initial public offering (IPO) plans were earlier said to have been pushed back due to a slowdown in the global economy and lacklustre public market performance of former unicorns such as Uber.
COVID-19 could indefinitely delay its arrival on stock exchanges.
Andi Haswidi contributed to this story.