Indonesian unicorn Traveloka said to suspend merger talks with Peter Thiel’s SPAC

Photo: Traveloka's LinkedIn page

Indonesian unicorn Traveloka has decided not to pursue talks to list in the US through a merger with Bridgetown Holdings Ltd, a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) backed by billionaire Richard Li and Peter Thiel, DealStreetAsia has learnt.

The news was first reported by Bloomberg.

The development comes as enthusiasm in the SPAC market has reportedly waned after more than 400 blank cheque companies raised in excess of $115.6 billion this year mainly on Wall Street.

Instead of continuing the advanced talks with Bridgetown Holdings, the first of the three SPACs formed by Thiel Capital and Pacific Century, Traveloka is likely to go public via traditional initial public offering in the US to raise up to $400 million.

Traveloka first floated plans to list in the US this year to raise funds using a SPAC in February. It had started laying the ground for an IPO as early as 2017.

In April, sources confirmed that Traveloka was in advanced talks to merge with Bridgetown, which raised $595 million in a US IPO in October, making it the biggest blank cheque company focused on Southeast Asia.

The Bloomberg report said the Indonesian travel unicorn may revisit talks with Bridgetown or another SPAC if the market recovers.

Before the COVID-19 crisis struck, Traveloka was set to raise funding at a valuation of $4 billion, according to an industry executive who spoke to DealStreetAsia earlier. The company, however, found its valuation tumbling to $2.75 billion during negotiations with potential investors.

Earlier, Southeast Asian unicorn Grab pushed back its planned US listing to the end of this year from the original target of July. Grab plans to go public on Nasdaq through a merger with blank cheque firm Altimeter Growth at a valuation of nearly $40 billion.

A SPAC is a shell company with no operating business, but a pool of capital raised through an IPO that it uses to take a private firm public.

Bridgetown Holdings, the SPAC that Traveloka was supposed to merge with, launched a third blank cheque company in May, barely five months after the second SPAC raised $299 million.

The second SPAC has merged with Singapore-based online real estate portal PropertyGuru Group.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.