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Grab superapp goes public via $40 billion SPAC deal

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Grab President Ming Maa speaks with Yahoo Finance about the ride-hailing and superapp company’s Nasdaq debut and plans for growth in three areas: delivery, financial services, and e-commerce infrastructure.

Video transcript

[MUSIC PLAYING]

BRIAN SOZZI: Super app, Grab, made its long-awaited debut on the public markets today. The stock began trading on NASDAQ after merging with a SPAC launched by US investment firm, Altimeter Capital. Company raised $4.4 billion in the deal, valuing its business at about $40 billion. Grab has earned its super app status by pushing beyond its ride hailing roots in Southeast Asia, adding other products, such as investing services, insurance, and buy now pay later options, and even food delivery.

Joining us now for an inside look into the company is Grab President, Ming Maa. Ming, nice to see you here today. And congratulations on going public. For those not familiar with Grab, why do you define yourself as a super app?

MING MAA: First of all, thank you so much for having me here today. It's obviously a very exciting day for us, and we're just absolutely honored to be partnered with NASDAQ for our listing in the US. The key for our business is to really be there for all of the daily transactions of our consumers.

From the time when you wake up, you order breakfast, you take a ride to work, you're ordering lunch, you're working on e-commerce purchases, paying your bills at night. We want to be the one-stop transaction platform for all of your daily services. What's really unique about Southeast Asia is the lack of infrastructure to provide similar experiences as what you see in the US or other developed markets. And that's where we really come in and play in this space.

BRIAN CHEUNG: Hey, congratulations. It's Brian Cheung here. I wanted to ask about just the financials of this deal, because at your scale, I imagine you had a lot of options to go public, where you wanted to go public. First of all, why here in the United States? And then secondly, why did you go down the SPAC route as opposed to maybe a traditional IPO or even a direct listing?

MING MAA: Well, you're right. We did evaluate several different options. But at the end of the day, the key for us was finding a platform with the best access to global investors and a pool of the largest liquidity in the markets. And for us, that was NASDAQ.

In terms of why a SPAC. I think this route was the right route for Grab, from a number of different reasons. First, it was obvious to really find a investor and an co-owner in the business, in Altimeter, a partner that would help us really transition from the private to the public capital markets.

And I think this process really allowed us to spend a much deeper amount of time with our shareholders, our investors, to educate the investor community about Southeast Asia, about the opportunities here, and about the value proposition of a super app in this region. And ultimately, what that led to is an ideal day one cap table for the company.

JULIE HYMAN: Ming, it's Julie here. So, as we look at the proceeds that you're getting from this back deal and expansion, what is that expansion look like? Is it adding more services to the app? Is it geographic? Is it all of the above? What is the next 12 months look like for you?

MING MAA: Well, first of all, we're going to be very disciplined about capital allocation. But having said that, I think we're very excited about three areas to continue investing and growing. The first is to continue doubling down on our deliveries business. So, whenever someone is hungry, either for a restaurant meal or groceries to cook at home, to just snacks on a Friday night, we want them to think of Grab first.

The second is all around financial services and continue to drive financial inclusion across Southeast Asia. And the way we approach this is to drive affordability and accessibility for the masses. What that means for us is products, like microinsurance, microsavings, microlending. We're also very excited about our digital bank platform in Singapore. Again, opportunities that drive the real democratization of digital banking and making banking as simple as ordering a ride from Grab.

The last area that we're very excited about is to continue investing in the infrastructure, to enable e-commerce across the region. And whether that's through our on-demand delivery fleet, the lowest cost fleet for same-day deliveries in the region, or through our buy now pay later, we want to create the infrastructure to enable commerce online.

BRIAN SOZZI: And Ming, we've seen increased travel restrictions overseas because of the Omicron variant. What are you seeing on your platform right now this quarter?

MING MAA: Well, I think it's certainly been a turbulent time over the last 18 to 24 months, and certainly, COVID-19 has impacted our ridesharing business. But what we've seen in parallel is just phenomenal adoption of digital services by consumers in the region. Something that would have normally taken several years to get to the same place. We've seen record number of merchants go online for the first time. We've seen adoption of our digital wallet accelerate during COVID. And the idea of on-demand deliveries for anything that you want to eat, from restaurant food, to groceries, to snacks, I think that's really taking hold in Southeast Asia.

I think at the same time, we've seen the behavior and the government restrictions to COVID really relaxed. I think the policies of zero case now moving towards treating COVID and its variants as an endemic, and with us for quite some time in the future, really has helped cities and governments open up across Southeast Asia. So, overall, I would say, we're quite constructive, particularly as we look into 2022.

BRIAN SOZZI: And Ming, lastly, before we let you go, just so folks have it right. Do you have a sense on how much longer Uber will stay an investor in Grab?

MING MAA: Well, I think you'd have to ask Uber that question. But we have great partnerships with many of our strategic investors, including Uber. They are a very key partner for us. We learn quite a bit from them, and hopefully, vice versa. And we look forward to really looking at opportunities in the future.

BRIAN SOZZI: All right, congrats on the debut. Grab President, Ming Maa. Good to see you. We'll talk to you soon.

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