Grab weighs US listing through SPAC merger

SINGAPORE – Holdings is exploring going public in the United States through a with a blank-cheque company as the South-east Asian ride-hailing and delivery giant seeks to expedite its listing process, according to people familiar with the matter.

JPMorgan Chase & Co and Morgan Stanley, which are already advising Grab on its initial public offering plans, are working with the start-up to identify special purpose acquisition companies (SPACs) that it could combine with, the people said.

Still, a US listing via a traditional IPO is not off the table, said the people, who asked not to be identified as the discussions are private.

Representatives for Grab and JPMorgan declined to comment, while a representative for Morgan Stanley did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Merging with a SPAC, a shell company whose sponsors raise money from investors in order to buy a private company and give it a berth on a public exchange, would allow Grab – South-east Asia’s most valuable start-up backed by SoftBank Group – to accelerate its listing process.

Several of the region’s tech unicorns including Traveloka are considering going public through blank-cheque companies to ride on the red-hot sentiment.

Sea Ltd’s decade-long journey from a scrappy start-up to South-east Asia’s most valuable company has inspired many Internet companies in the region to tap the capital markets to bankroll their expansion.

Singapore-based Sea, which runs mobile gaming and e-commerce businesses, went public in the US in 2017 after raising US$989 million (S$1.3 billion) and now has a market value of US$117 billion.

Grab’s listing considerations come after talks to combine with Indonesian rival Gojek collapsed.

The latter start-up is now in advanced discussions to merge with local e-commerce pioneer Tokopedia instead, creating a powerful regional player in online services that may then seek to go public as well.

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