Traveloka said to be exploring US listing via SPAC deal, looks to raise $400m

Indonesian unicorn Traveloka is looking at raising up to $400 million in a US listing through a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) backed by billionaires Richard Li and Peter Thiel, Bloomberg reported, citing sources privy to the matter.

DealStreetAsia sources confirmed in April that Traveloka was in advanced talks with Bridgetown Holdings, the first of the three SPACs formed by Thiel Capital and Pacific Century. The SPAC raised $595 million in a US IPO in October last year, making it the biggest blank cheque company focused on Southeast Asia.

The Bloomberg report said the merger will value the combined entity at about $5 billion. The fundraising, a so-called private investment in public entity (PIPE), would be part of a deal to merge Traveloka with Bridgetown Holdings. The amount discussed — about $200-400 million — could still change, according to the report.

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.

The same executive, however, said Traveloka’s business has nearly returned to pre-COVID levels that see the company commanding a valuation of around $5 billion.

A SPAC listing at that valuation could mark a lucrative exit for Traveloka’s investors, including Expedia, GIC, East Ventures, Sequoia Capital, and Global Founders Capital.

Despite the slowdown in business, Traveloka managed to raise $250 million led by an undisclosed global financial institution, believed to be QIA, and joined by existing investors, including EV Growth.

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.

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.

Should the SPAC merger push through, the nine-year-old Southeast Asian unicorn will join Singapore’s Grab in pursuing a listing on the public market in the US.

Grab had pushed back its planned US listing to the end of this year from the original target of July. In April, it announced a plan to go public on Nasdaq through a merger with Altimeter Growth, a SPAC, at a valuation of nearly $40 billion.

Bridgetown Holdings, the SPAC that Traveloka will be merging with, said in its prospectus that it will be focusing on a target with operations or prospective operations in the technology, financial services, or media sectors in Southeast Asia. A potential merger with Traveloka will be in line with that strategy.

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. Following a SPAC IPO, proceeds are placed into a trust account; while the SPAC typically has 18-24 months to complete a merger with a target company — a process usually referred to as “a de-SPAC transaction.”

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.