SoftBank-Backed Grab Weighs U.S. IPO Through SPAC Merger

Grab Holdings Inc. is exploring going public in the U.S. through a merger with a blank-check company as the Southeast Asian ride-hailing and delivery giant seeks to expedite its listing process, according to people familiar with the matter.

JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Morgan Stanley, which are already advising Grab on its initial public offering plans, are working with the startup to identify special purpose acquisition companies that it could combine with, the people said. Still, a U.S. listing via a traditional IPO isn’t off the table, said the people, who asked not to be identified as the discussions are private.

Representatives for Grab and JPMorgan declined to comment, while a representative for Morgan Stanley didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

Merging with a SPAC, a shell company whose sponsors raise money from investors in order to buy a private company and give it a berth on a public exchange, would allow Grab -- Southeast Asia’s most valuable startup backed by SoftBank Group Corp. -- to accelerate its listing process. Several of the region’s tech unicorns including Traveloka are considering going public through blank-check companies to ride on the red-hot sentiment.

Sea Ltd.’s decade-long journey from a scrappy startup to Southeast Asia’s most valuable company has inspired many internet companies in the region to tap the capital markets to bankroll their expansion. Singapore-based Sea, which runs mobile gaming and e-commerce businesses, went public in the U.S. in 2017 after raising $989 million and now has a market value of $117 billion.

Grab’s listing considerations come after talks to combine with Indonesian rival Gojek collapsed. The latter startup is now in advanced discussions to merge with local e-commerce pioneer PT Tokopedia instead, creating a powerful player in online services that may then seek to go public as well, Bloomberg News has reported.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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