Singapore’s ride-hailing giant Grab is reportedly raising US$200 million investment from Central Group, Thailand’s biggest shopping mall and department store operator as the unicorn is steadily entrenching its businesses in more regional markets.
We first wrote about the group expressed its interest in buying stakes in Grab’s Thai unit last September.
The deal, if sealed, will see the conglomerate help Grab expand its ride-hailing business in Thailand. Central Group’s businesses span across merchandising, real estate, retailing, hospitality and restaurants.
Grab, on the other hand, as part of its Southeast Asia’s everyday app ambition, has launched a wide range of services, from mobile payment to groceries and food delivery, that works by combing offline business with its online technologies.
A Grab spokesperson declined to comment.
Grab is currently raising its Series H round which is raising around $3 billion. The investment, if pushes through, will put the Central Group on a long list of other strategic backers who hopped on Grab’s funding bandwagon, including Hyundai, Softbank, Microsoft, Uber, and Booking Holdings. PayPal is rumoured to still be in talks with Grab to join the latter’s funding round.
The Singapore-based ride-hailing unicorn also just announced two important milestones in January, namely the crossing of the three billion rides mark and setting up of a new research and development centre in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. It has expanded beyond its root in ride-hailing into verticals such as food delivery, payments and logistics.
Thailand is a tough nut to crack and deep understanding of Thai’s culture and custom is required for a foreign company. If Central Group confirms investment in Grab’s Thai unit, Grab will be able to ride on the former’s local expertise to tilt the balance to its favour – against Go-Jek.
Editor: Ben Jiang