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Gojek and Grab intensify turf war in Southeast Asia through tie-ups with AirAsia, Emtek

Written by Stephanie Pearl Li Published on     2 mins read

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With the latest acquisition, AirAsia is set to “turbocharge” its ambition to become “a leading ASEAN challenger super app,” said the group CEO.

Malaysian-headquartered budget airline AirAsia said on Wednesday that it will acquire Gojek’s business in Thailand for USD 50 million, according to a stock exchange filing. The development is the latest example of a regional conglomerate and tech firm deepening business ties.

The budget airline said it has acquired a 100% equity interest in Velox Technology for USD 40 million and Velox Fintech for USD 10 million, per the filing. Velox Technology and Velox Fintech are the two tech subsidiaries under Gojek in Thailand. Meanwhile, Gojek will take a 4.76% stake in AirAsia SuperApp, registering a valuation of USD 1 billion for the Malaysian company’s digital arm.

Aside from operating budget flights, AirAsia has a fintech payments unit, food delivery service, a ride-hailing feature, and a doctor appointment booking service for users in Singapore and Malaysia.

“We’re omnipresent in every major, secondary, and tertiary city in Thailand. Our brand and know-how of the entire Thai market give us an advantage,” said Tony Fernandes, the group CEO of AirAsia, during a press conference on Wednesday.

The news comes almost two months after Gojek announced its merger with e-commerce firm Tokopedia in mid-May, forming a new entity called GoTo Group with a combined valuation of USD 18 billion.

While Gojek said in May that the firm would remain committed to markets outside Indonesia, including Singapore, Vietnam, and Thailand, Gojek co-founder Kevin Aluwi said during a press conference that his company’s deal with AirAsia would give it space to ramp up investments in Vietnam and Singapore.

“The talks began two months ago,” said Aluwi. “This provides us an opportunity to really focus on the markets that we can commit to, and we’ll devote significant resources to Vietnam and Singapore.”

AirAsia launched its self-described super app last October and has been adding features ever since. BigPay, the fintech unit of AirAsia, announced last Wednesday that it had applied for a digital banking license in Malaysia, making it one of the 50 conglomerates and startups in 29 applications to vie for the permits issued by the Malaysian central bank. With the latest acquisition, the firm is set to “turbocharge” its ambition to become “a leading ASEAN challenger super app,” according to Fernandes.

The move comes shortly after Indonesian conglomerate Emtek said on July 2 that the firm had bought approximately 311.3 million shares of Grab’s unit in Indonesia, PT Grab Teknologi Indonesia, for USD 210 million, increasing its holding to 5.88% after the transaction. In April, Grab acquired a 4% stake in Emtek.

“The reason for executing the transaction is to support the main business activities and strengthen the company’s position as a leading technology and digital company in Indonesia and enrich its digital ecosystem,” Emtek, which backs e-commerce firm Bukalapak and mobile wallet platform Dana, said in the filing.

Read this: Grab, Gojek, and Lalamove’s couriers in Indonesia seek better pay, hold series of strikes

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