Traveloka said to have halted talks with Richard Li-backed Spac for US listing

HONG KONG (BLOOMBERG) - Indonesia's Traveloka has halted talks to go public through a deal with Bridgetown Holdings, a blank-cheque company backed by billionaires Richard Li and Peter Thiel, according to sources familiar with the matter.

The board of directors of the South-east Asian online travel giant has decided not to pursue a listing via a special purpose acquisition company (Spac) now as the enthusiasm in the Spac market has waned, the sources said, asking not to be named as the matter is private. Traveloka will likely explore going public via a traditional initial public offering (IPO) in the United States instead, the sources said.

If the market recovers, Traveloka may revisit talks with Bridgetown or a different Spac, one source said, adding that the two sides will continue to monitor the situation in the coming weeks.

A representative for Traveloka was not immediately reachable for comment. Bridgetown declined to comment.

Spacs - shell companies that raise money from investors through a listing on the promise of merging with an unidentified private company - have been one of the hottest trends of global markets over the past year. Of the US$461 billion (S$618.7 billion) raised globally through IPOs this year, about US$131 billion went to Spacs before the booming market came to a near-standstill.

The US Securities and Exchange Commission has stepped up its scrutiny of them this year after the fundraising surge. Chairman Gary Gensler has called for more transparency around their financial structure.

Bridgetown closed on Friday at US$9.97, just shy of its US$9.71 historic low. The stock surged as high as US$17.37 in February.

Traveloka had been in talks with Bridgetown since around April as it sought funds for growth to expand its geographic reach as well as the range of its services, Bloomberg News has reported. The deal could have valued the company at about US$5 billion.

Singapore online real estate firm PropertyGuru agreed in July to go public through a merger with Bridgetown 2 Holdings, a second blank-cheque company backed by Mr Li and Mr Thiel. Their third Spac, Bridgetown 3 Holdings, filed for an IPO in May.