Grab tells staff it is 'in a position to acquire' after Gojek merger report

Grab and Gojek have made substantial progress in talks to merge. PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

SINGAPORE (REUTERS, BLOOMBERG) - The chief executive of Singapore ride-hailer Grab told employees in an internal note on Thursday (Dec 3) that the firm is in a position to make acquisitions, following a report it is close to a merger with regional rival Gojek.

The two firms have made substantial progress in talks to merge South-east Asia's two most valuable start-ups, Bloomberg reported on Wednesday.

Sources familiar with the matter have previously told Reuters that over the last few years, large investors of the two companies have backed a merger of both loss-making firms.

"There is speculation again about a Gojek deal," Mr Anthony Tan told employees in a note on the company's internal communication platform, seen by Reuters.

"Our business momentum is good, and as with any market consolidation rumours, we are the ones in a position to acquire."

Mr Tan did not give any specifics about a potential deal with Gojek. Grab declined comment on Mr Tan's note and the media report.

Gojek declined comment.

Grab, South-east Asia's biggest start-up, is now valued at over US$15 billion (S$20 billion), Reuters reported in October, according to a source familiar with the matter. Gojek's worth has been estimated at US$10 billion.

According to the earlier Bloomberg report, under one proposal being discussed that has substantial support, Mr Tan would become the chief executive officer of the combined entity, while Gojek executives would run the new combined business in Indonesia under the Gojek brand.

The two brands may be run separately for an extended period of time, sources told Bloomberg. The combination is ultimately aimed at becoming a publicly listed company.

The talks are still fluid and may not result in a transaction, the sources said. The deal would need regulatory approval and governments may have antitrust concerns about the unification of the region's two leading ride-hailing companies.

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