GIC-backed Traveloka nears $274 million funding after ending Spac talks

Traveloka is pulling in fresh funds after its board decided not to pursue a listing via Bridgetown Holdings. PHOTO: TRAVELOKA/LINKEDIN

SINGAPORE (BLOOMBERG) - Traveloka, South-east Asia's biggest online travel start-up, is close to raising more than US$200 million (S$274 million) from investors after ending talks to go public via a merger with a blank-cheque company last year, according to people familiar with the matter.

The Jakarta-based firm is pulling in fresh funds after its board decided not to pursue a listing via Bridgetown Holdings, a special purpose acquisition company (Spac) backed by billionaires Richard Li and Peter Thiel.

Traveloka, backed by investors including sovereign wealth fund GIC and Expedia Group, is aiming for an initial public offering in the United Stated this year but the location and time could still change, the people said.

A Traveloka representative declined to comment. The current fund raising is not finalised and could also change, the people said.

The valuation of the deal now under discussion could not be learnt. Traveloka had been valued at US$3 billion, according to CB Insights, but Bloomberg News reported in 2020 that it was seeking funds at a lower valuation.

South-east Asia's tourism industry was plunged into a deep crisis in the pandemic when lockdowns all but ground travel to a halt. Traveloka ventured into financial services during the pandemic by partnering with commercial banks including Bank Rakyat Indonesia Persero, Bank Negara Indonesia and Siam Commercial Bank.

Things have started to look up this year as South-east Asian countries removed pandemic-era restrictions and reopened borders for travel. For example, Thailand - where international tourism contributes about 15 per cent to gross domestic product - is seeing a rush of foreign travellers after scrapping its Covid-19 testing and quarantine requirements.

Traveloka claims to be a lifestyle "super-app", allowing consumers to book a range of services including airline tickets and hotels as well as spas and tourism attractions. It also offers food delivery and financing, payment and insurance products. Its app has been downloaded more than 60 million times.

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