Grab to go public in biggest SPAC deal to date

13 Apr 2021

Image: © Jirapong/Stock.adobe.com

The merger with Altimeter Capital’s blank-cheque vehicle will bring the south-east Asian ‘super app’ public at a $39.6bn valuation.

Grab, the Singaporean ride-hailing and delivery giant backed by SoftBank, is going public through a merger with a blank-cheque company.

In what will be the largest deal of its kind, Grab is merging with a special purpose acquisition company, or SPAC, at a $39.6bn valuation. It will see the south-east Asian company go public on the Nasdaq.

Grab began as an Uber rival serving the region and has since morphed into a broader delivery and fintech firm – or ‘super app’ as it calls itself. It will now team up with a SPAC called Altimeter Growth Corp, established by VC firm Altimeter Capital.

The company has long been tipped for going public. By merging with a SPAC that is already listed on the stock exchange, Grab can go public without any of the lead time of an IPO. The method has proved to be very popular over the last year.

On top of its hefty valuation, Grab is expected receive around $4.5bn in fresh funds from investors including BlackRock, Fidelity, T Rowe Price and Temasek to finance further growth and expansion.

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“This is a milestone in our journey to open up access for everyone to benefit from the digital economy. This is even more critical as our region recovers from Covid-19. It was very challenging for us too, but it taught us immensely about the resiliency of our business,” Grab chief executive Anthony Tan said.

“Our diversified super app strategy helped our driver-partners pivot to deliveries, and enabled us to deliver growth while improving profitability. As we become a publicly traded company, we’ll work even harder to create economic empowerment for our communities, because when south-east Asia succeeds, Grab succeeds.”

The Alimeter SPAC is headed up by Brad Gerstner, the CEO of Altimeter Capital, which recently backed fintech start-up Plaid in a large round.

Gerstner said that Grab still has a great deal of the south-east Asian market to target.

“As one of the world’s largest and fastest-growing internet companies, Grab is paving the digital path forward for the 670m citizens of south-east Asia,” he said.

Since its founding, Grab has raised more than $12bn in funding, with Japan’s SoftBank being its most notable backer.

Jonathan Keane is a freelance business and technology journalist based in Dublin

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