Riding the wave
Indonesian ride-hailing and payments company Gojek completed its biggest equity financing in 2019, securing a capital boost of more than US$1.5bn to fund its expansion and fend off competition.
In a year when Chinese growth came under scrutiny, investors looked beyond the world’s second-largest economy and sought investment opportunities in fast-growing South-East Asia.
Jakarta-based Gojek caught the attention. The company, backed by marquee investors such as Google, Chinese internet giant Tencent Holdings and Singaporean sovereign fund Temasek Holdings, launched a global financing round for the first time in late 2018.
The company met about 400 investors in its Series F equity financing, including strategic, private equity, institutional and corporate investors.
The first closing in February was led by existing investors Google, JD.com, and Tencent, with Mitsubishi Corporation and Provident Capital also participating. By the final close in September, Gojek had signed up more partners, including insurance company AIA and US payments giant Visa. Cool Japan Fund, a Japanese entertainment-dedicated fund, also invested about US$50m in the round, which valued Gojek at about US$10bn.
The financing was launched amid intense competition with Gojek’s key rival, SoftBank-backed ride-hailing company Grab. Having taken over Uber’s operations in eight South-East Asian countries in March 2018, Singapore-based Grab was ahead in the race to expand beyond its home turf.
The US$1.5bn-plus Series F financing helped Gojek build a war chest for its own expansion, challenging Grab’s position in markets where it did not previously have a presence. Dominant in Indonesia, Gojek marched into Grab’s home market of Singapore in late 2018, and has also launched in Vietnam and Thailand, where local bank SCB invested in the Series F round as a strategic partner.
Gojek has big ambitions. It plans to use the proceeds to enhance transport, food delivery, logistics, mobile payments, and merchant services business, and to accelerate market expansion across South-East Asia. In November, it re-submitted its application to operate in the Philippines, where Grab is currently dominant.
Founded in 2010, Gojek launched an app allowing people to order motorcycle rides in January 2015 and has since expanded into food delivery and on-demand groceries. Users can pay for the service using Gojek’s mobile payments platform.
In October, Gojek’s 35-year-old CEO, Nadiem Makarim, was named education and culture minister. Co-founder Kevin Aluwi and president Andre Soelistyo, who is credited with leading Gojek’s fundraising efforts, have taken over management of the company.
Citigroup was the global coordinator and placement agent. The other placement agents were Bank of America and SMBC Nikko.