Gojek denies report on merger talks with Grab

Talk of a potential merger comes as both Gojek and Grab continue to raise blockbuster funding rounds.
Talk of a potential merger comes as both Gojek and Grab continue to raise blockbuster funding rounds.PHOTOS: ST FILE

SINGAPORE (THE BUSINESS TIMES) - Indonesian super-app player Gojek is refuting a report that it is holding talks on a potential merger with Grab, a spokesman told The Business Times on Tuesday (Feb 25).

Earlier in the day, The Information reported that the two decacorns are holding talks on a potential merger, although roadblocks remain to negotiating how control of the combined firm will be split.

"There are no plans for any sort of merger, and recent media reports regarding discussions of this nature are not accurate," the Gojek spokesman said. Grab declined to comment.

According to The Information's report, which cited people familiar with the matter, both companies' management teams have had serious conversations about a potential merger in the past few months. In early February, Grab president Ming Maa and Gojek chief executive Andre Soelistyo were said to have attended the latest discussion.

However, a major point of contention is said to lie in who will control the combined entity. The Information reported that Gojek does not want its operations to be absorbed into Grab. Meanwhile, Grab reportedly told its major investors that Gojek wants a deal where its shareholders would own half of the companies' combined Indonesian operations. However, Grab is said to be seeking control of the combined entity, including the Indonesian operations.

In addition, the deal may face regulatory scrutiny, given that Grab's earlier acquisition of Uber's South-east Asian business was found to have violated Singapore's anti-competition laws.

Talk of a potential merger comes as both Grab and Gojek continue to raise blockbuster funding rounds, while there is little clarity on their path to profitability.

In the latest investment, Grab raised more than US$850 million (S$1.19 billion) from Japan’s Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (MUFG) and TIS Inc to bankroll its expansion into financial services in the region, Bloomberg News reported.

The sum includes US$706 million from MUFG, Japan’s largest bank, and US$150 million from TIS, a provider of data centre and cloud services, according to joint statements from the companies on Tuesday.

Grab, backed by SoftBank Group, has been expanding into financial services, building on its ride-hailing, food delivery and e-wallet offerings in an effort to become a one-stop shop for on-demand services in the region.

The company will co-develop financial products and solutions for the region with the two investors, Grab president Ming Maa said in a statement. The investments demonstrate “their confidence in Grab’s super-app strategy and our ability to build a sustainable long-term business,” he said.