TOKYO • Grab, Uber Technologies' largest rival in South-east Asia, plans to raise more than US$1.5 billion (S$2.1 billion) in a new funding round backed by SoftBank Group, people familiar with the matter said.
SoftBank is pledging about US$1 billion in the ride-sharing company, backed by Tiger Global Management and GGV Capital, the sources said, asking not to be named because the matter is private.
It was not clear whether the money was coming from the Japanese company itself or its yet-to-close SoftBank Vision Fund. Grab's financing could be a record for South-east Asia, eclipsing the US$750 million it raised in September last year, in a round - also led by SoftBank - said to give it a valuation then of more than US$3 billion.
Grab, which this week announced plans to expand to its seventh country in the region, is racing against Uber and Go-Jek Indonesia to cast its net across more cities and drum up business for its nascent payment platform.
The companies have been engaged in a cash-burning battle underpinned by their ability to raise funds and expand in one of the fastest-growing markets globally.
SoftBank's billionaire chairman Masayoshi Son is trying to close his US$100 billion Vision Fund, which is being backed by his own company along with money from Saudi Arabia's public investment fund and Abu Dhabi's Mubadala Development. Apple, Qualcomm and Oracle chairman Larry Ellison may each invest US$1 billion, people familiar with the matter have said.
As SoftBank closes in on the first round of the fund, it has cut investment deals - including for satellite start-up OneWeb - that it said will likely be included in the fund.
Grab has pledged US$700 million in investment in Indonesia in the next four years, seeking to win over a market with 260 million people. It is Grab's largest market, where the four-year-old company saw more than 600 per cent growth last year.
Grab is hiring more than 800 new research and development staff in six centres over the next two years, including new facilities in Bangalore and Ho Chi Minh City. It has said that it is willing to set aside as much as US$100 million to bankroll early-stage start-ups in mobile and financial services technology in Indonesia.