Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 16 October 2019

SoftBank fuels up ride-hailer Grab with extra $2bn

Fund founder Masayoshi Son betting big that hitching rides via an app and autonomous vehicles are the future of transportation

SoftBank chief Masayoshi Son is backing ride-hailer with more billions. Bloomberg
SoftBank chief Masayoshi Son is backing ride-hailer with more billions. Bloomberg

SoftBank will pump an additional $2 billion (Dh7.34bn) into ride-hailing company Grab and plans to explore investment opportunities in Indonesia’s electric battery and renewable energy sectors.

The Japanese conglomerate, which announced plans last week to raise a total of $108bn for its second Vision Fund, will also increase its investment in e-commerce start-up Tokopedia, SoftBank founder Masayoshi Son said in Jakarta after his meeting with Indonesian President Joko Widodo on Monday.

“We will invest $2 billion through Grab,” Mr Son said. “Tokopedia is also very, very important so we’ll increase our investment into Tokopedia and help it grow.”

Mr Son is betting big that hitching rides via an app and autonomous vehicles are the future of transportation. In addition to Uber Technologies, SoftBank has poured billions of dollars into Grab, co-founded by Anthony Tan who is also chief executive, including $1.46bn a few months ago, as well as Indonesian online marketplace Tokopedia.

The serial investor plans to put an additional $3bn into Indonesian companies over the next three years, Co-ordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs Luhut Pandjaitan said on Monday.

Separately, Grab said it will invest capital it is getting from SoftBank in Indonesia over the next five years to set up a second headquarters in the country and to create a next-generation transportation network based on electric vehicles.

“We are definitely interested in electric vehicles, the batteries and the charging system,” Mr Son said. “We will invest in the ecosystem - We would like to get the blue sky back to Jakarta.”

He said his strategy is to help create more Indonesian unicorns, or private companies with $1bn valuation or more.

Anthony Tan, group chief executive officer and co-founder of Grab Holdings Inc., speaks during the SoftBank World 2019 event in Tokyo, Japan, on Thursday, July 18, 2019. Tan said the company captures 40 terabytes of data daily through its "superapp," which has been downloaded 155 million times by customers who use it to call a ride, order lunch and pay for purchases. Photographer: Akio Kon/Bloomberg
Anthony Tan. Bloomberg

One of the areas Grab is targeting is health care. Grab plans to launch online healthcare service in Indonesia in the next three months, aiming to increase access to doctors and medical services for all Indonesians, the company said.

Updated: July 29, 2019 10:30 AM

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