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Grab plans to raise $6.5B this year to fund an acquisition spree in Southeast Asia

Always be raisin’. That appears to be the motto of Southeast Asia’s ride-hailing companies Grab and Go-Jek.
Fresh from closing a near-$1.5 billion raise from SoftBank’s Vision Fund as part of a huge, multi-billion Series H deal, Grab said today that it plans to raise $6.5 billion in capital this year alone to amp up its battle with Go-Jek, which recently raised $1 billion of an ongoing Series F round.
A spokesperson for Grab told TechCrunch that the $6.5 billion will include additional money into that Series H deal, but also other investments that could include debt funding. The money announced so far this year — that $4.5 billion from the Series H — is included in that $6.5 billion goal, the Grab rep explained, so that means Grab is aiming to raise a further $5 billion in 2019 a further $2 billion in 2019. (Update: yes, it’s confusing so we’ve changed our numbers because Grab said the $6.5 billion includes the entire Series H, some of which was announced last year, not just the portion raised in 2019.)
Yes, that’s right, two billion dollars of additional capital!
Grab’s Series H has already swollen to $4.5 billion, to give you an idea of its cash pile right now. Grab’s valuation is around $16 billion, according to sources, and it has raised $7.5 billion to date.
While the money will no doubt go towards ‘growth’ — and particularly to develop Grab’s ‘super app’ strategy of offering more than just rides in its app — Grab said that it plans to make “at least 6 investments or acquisitions” in Southeast Asia this year.
That acquisitive approach would be unprecedented for Southeast Asia, a region of few tech exits despite its growing potential. That is beginning to change with the rise of Grab and Go-Jek, local companies that are buying up smaller startups to add tech and expertise under that aforementioned ‘super app’ strategy, which is aimed at expanding to become the on-demand app of choice for Southeast Asia’s 600 million consumers.
But still, half a dozen deals will bring even more liquidity to Southeast Asia’s startup ecosystem and help VCs turn some of their paper valuations into actual transactions and value for their funds and LPs.
Grab spent $100 million on Indonesia-based Kudo in 2017, while Go-Jek has been more acquisitive with more than half a dozen deals under its belt, including the purchase of three fintech startups in 2017 and, most recently, Philippines-based wallet Coins for $72 million.
Grab CEO and co-founder Anthony Tan put out an interesting statement that specifically notes SoftBank President Masayoshi Son’s apparently unwavering support for his business. He also dropped some shade on Go-Jek, which has only expanded beyond its home in Indonesia over the last six months, with a claim that Grab will soon be four-times bigger than its arch rival.
Here’s Tan’s statement in full:
I met Masayoshi-san last week where he gave his unlimited support to power our growth. The support from strategic investors like SoftBank and others, will allow us to grow very aggressively this year across our verticals of payments, transport and food. At our current growth rates, we expect to be four times bigger than our closest competitor in Indonesia and across the region by the end of the year. As we grow to become the leading super app in Southeast Asia, we see massive opportunities to expand our business and continue to serve our customers, driver-partners and merchants across Southeast Asia.
Acquisitions aside, there’s a lot happening within Grab. The company is mulling a move to spin out its financial services unit, with PayPal and Ant Financial among the interested parties it is talking to, as TechCrunch reported last month.
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