Indonesian travel start-up exploring $2.7 billion Spac deal: Sources

Tiket joins a slew of South-east Asian Internet firms considering Spac listings or IPOs to fuel growth.


SINGAPORE (BLOOMBERG) - Indonesian online travel company is exploring going public through a merger with a special purpose acquisition company (Spac) as it seeks to expand its business, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

The start-up is in talks with Cova Acquisition Corp for a deal that would value the combined entity at about US$2 billion (S$2.7 billion), according to the people, who asked not to be identified because the talks are private.

Goldman Sachs Group is advising Tiket, which is valued at more than US$1 billion and owned by diversified Indonesian conglomerate Djarum Group, they said.

The start-up may also pursue a traditional initial public offering (IPO), a merger or an acquisition to expand, the people said.

Negotiations between the two firms are not finalised and it is possible that discussions may not result in a deal, they added.

Tiket joins a slew of South-east Asian Internet companies considering Spac listings or IPOs to fuel growth as online commerce gains popularity in the region.

Indonesian rival Traveloka is in advanced talks to go public through merging with Bridgetown Holdings, a blank-cheque firm backed by billionaires Richard Li and Peter Thiel.

As part of the deal, Tiket could raise about US$200 million in a so-called private investment in public equity, or PIPE, that often accompanies a Spac merger, the people said. Representatives of Tiket, Goldman and Cova Acquisition declined to comment. was founded in 2011, a year before Traveloka. Djarum acquired Tiket in 2017 and put it under the leadership of chief executive George Hendrata, previously Djarum's director of business development and diversification.

Tiket's platform lets consumers buy tickets for flights, trains as well as concerts and other events. Users can also book hotel and rental cars in Indonesia.

Tiket has a network of more than 90 airlines, 2.8 million hotels and other lodgings, and more than 400 corporate partners.

Its sales of plane tickets and hotel bookings surged more than 300 per cent in the first three months of 2021 compared with the second quarter of 2020, when business was hurt by the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, according to the company's press release in April.

Djarum is led by Mr Michael Bambang Hartono and his younger brother Robert Budi Hartono, who inherited a clove cigarette manufacturing business from their father Oei Wie Gwan upon his death in 1963.

They grew the business into a diversified conglomerate including Bank Central Asia, whose market capitalisation of about US$55 billion makes it Indonesia's most valuable company. Mr Robert Budi Hartono is the richest Indonesian with a net worth of US$16 billion, while Mr Michael Bambang Hartono has a net worth of US$15 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

Cova Acquisition is led by Mr Heng Jun Hong, founder of San Francisco-based Crescent Cove Advisors, which backs high-growth technology, media and telecommunications ventures in the US and South-east Asia.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.