According to Reuters, citing a statement by Central Group, the retailer said it will “acquire a significant non-controlling stake” in the Thailand unit of Grab. Reuters noted that in September it reported the two sides were in deal talks. As part of the arrangement, the two companies will collaborate on food and grocery delivery and logistics. “We look forward to collaborating together to revolutionize the retail and service industry,” Central Group chairman and chief executive Tos Chirathivat told Reuters.
During a news conference covered by Reuters, Grab Chief Executive Anthony Tan said the deal with Central Group marks the first time a company made an investment in a local unit of Grab. “Central’s $200 million investment is a significant local joint venture,” Tan said, according to Reuters. The CEO said the business in Thailand will add more services beyond hailing a ride or getting food delivered. “We are moving forward with eCommerce and logistics...We are going to enter online travel, (with) Booking and Agoda,” the CEO said. The deal comes as the ride-hailing market in Southeast Asia is predicted to see huge growth. Citing a Google-Temasek report, Reuters noted that the market is forecasted to hit close to $30 billion by 2025, up from $7.7 billion in 2018.
The investment from Central Group follows news reports in late December that SoftBank's Vision Fund could be gearing up to invest $1 billion in Grab, which in 2018 raised $2.7 billion. Overall it has raised more than $6 billion since its inception. In August Grab raised $1 billion, with several investors taking part in the round including Ping An Capital, OppenheimerFunds, Mirae Asset-Naver Asia Growth Fund, Cinda Sino-Rock Investment Management Company, Vulcan Capital, Macquarie Capital, Lightspeed Venture Partners, All-Stars Investment and Toyota Motors.