Monday, 25 June, 2018

Southeast Asia’s Grab lands $1B from Toyota at a $10B valuation

Toyota to invest billion in Grab Southeast Asia’s Grab lands $1B from Toyota at a $10B valuation
Jean Garcia | 13 June, 2018, 18:40

Grab said it plans to work with its new investor "to create a more efficient transport network that will ease traffic congestion in Southeast Asia's megacities" and help its drivers increase their income.

The world's most profitable auto manufacturer is investing $1 billion in Singapore's Grab Holdings Inc., valuing Southeast Asia's largest car-hailing service at just more than $10 billion, according to a person familiar with the transaction. Toyota has installed its data recorders in Grab-operated rental cars to collect driving data - a similar strategy it has employed with Japan Taxi, said Bloomberg.

In line with this investment move, an executive from Toyota will also be appointed to join Grab's board of directors; and another Toyota team member will be made an executive officer of Grab.

"This investment isn't necessarily about making money, but about getting access to technology that fits in some place in Toyota's broader business", said Edwin Merner, the Tokyo-based president of Atlantis Investment Research Corp., which doesn't own Toyota shares but is invested in Toyota Tsusho.

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Toyota has agreed to invest US$1 billion in Grab, becoming a lead investor in the latter's ongoing financing round, subjected to closing conditions. The partnership will also allow Grab to further expand its range of O2O services, such as GrabFood and GrabPay, deeper into the region. Toyota said the Singapore-based startup has big growth potential in a region that is home to around 600 million people.

Other automakers have put money into the ride-hailing industry. The carmaker first invested an undisclosed amount in Grab in August previous year, after it invested in US-based Uber in 2016 in a partnership for a financing programme that allowed Uber drivers to lease vehicles from Toyota and drive for Uber to cover the payments.

From its beginnings as a taxi-booking app - its original name is GrabTaxi - the company is morphing into an online platform for connecting users and offline services, and is venturing into financial services and venture capital. Grab has powerful backers though, including Uber, Didi and Softbank Group, the Japanese tech giant run by Masayoshi Son that has invested billions of dollars in automation and artificial intelligence companies, including GM's Cruise autonomous-car unit. Earlier this year, Hyundai (HYMTF) alsoinvested in Grab. It also has Southeast Asia's biggest land transportation fleet, delivering over six million rides per day. Go-jek is expected to expand its operations outside Indonesia this year in countries such as Singapore, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam. "Going forward, together with Grab, we will develop services that are more attractive, safe and secure for our customers in Southeast Asia", Shigeki Tomoyama, Toyota executive vice president and president of Toyota's in-house Connected Car Company, said.

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