Qatari state fund buys stake in New York Empire State Building

Updated 24 August 2016
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Qatari state fund buys stake in New York Empire State Building

DUBAI: Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund has made an iconic purchase in America — a stake in the company that owns New York’s Empire State Building.
The $622-million purchase by the Qatar Investment Authority comes as the Doha fund increases its investments in the US as the country tries to cope with low global oil and gas prices.
The Empire State Realty Trust Inc., which manages the 102-story, 1,454-foot (443-meter) -tall building, announced the Qatari purchase late Tuesday, saying the fund would gain a 9.9-percent stake in the company. The trust owns a total of 14 office properties and six retail properties around the New York area.
The Qatar Investment Authority did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday.
The pointed top of the Art Deco-style Empire State Building, once the tallest structure in the world, still stands out in New York’s famed skyline. It remains a major tourist attraction and has been the centerpiece of major American films from “King Kong” to “Sleepless in Seattle.”
Qatar will host the 2022 FIFA World Cup and has been on a building boom, mirroring on a smaller scale the one that gripped Dubai.
However, its government coffers have been hard hit by the drop of global oil prices, which have fallen from over $100 a barrel in the summer of 2014 to around $50 now.
The nation’s investment authority, estimated to be worth some $335 billion by the Las Vegas-based Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute, has been increasingly eyeing opportunities in the US Last September, it announced plans to open an office in New York and committed to investing $35 billion in the US over the next five years.
The fund’s existing American holdings include a more than 10-percent stake in New York-based luxury jeweler Tiffany & Co. It sold its share of the American film studio Miramax to Qatar-based media group beIN in March for an undisclosed sum.
Qatar Airways, meanwhile, has been rapidly expanding its operations in the US, provoking a backlash from American carriers.
Also among the Qatari fund’s interests in America is a 44-percent stake in the $8.6 billion redevelopment project in New York known as Manhattan West, which includes remodeling the building that’s now home to the global headquarters of The Associated Press.
The AP announced in August 2015 it planned to move from that building to another near the World Trade Center.


Indonesia’s Go-Jek close to profits in all segments

Updated 18 August 2018
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Indonesia’s Go-Jek close to profits in all segments

  • Go-Jek is Indonesia's first billio-dollar startup
  • Ride haling app evolves into online payment platform

JAKARTA: Go-Jek, Indonesia’s first billion-dollar startup, is “extremely close” to achieving profitability in all its segments, except transportation, its founder and CEO Nadiem Makarim told Reuters.

Launched in 2011 in Jakarta, Go-Jek — a play on the local word for motorbike taxis — has evolved from a ride-hailing service to a one-stop app allowing clients in Southeast Asia’s largest economy to make online payments and order everything from food, groceries to massages.

“We’re seeing enormous online to offline traction for all of our businesses and are close to being profitable, outside of transportation,” said the 34-year old CEO.
The startup is expected to be fully profitable “probably” within the next few years, Makarim added.

Already a market leader in Indonesia, where it processes more than 100 million transactions for its 20-25 million monthly users, Go-Jek is now looking to expand in Southeast Asia.

Ride hailing services in Southeast Asia are expected to surge to $20.1 billion in gross merchandise value by 2025 from $5.1 billion in 2017, according to a Google-Temasek report.

Go-Jek said in May it would invest $500 million to enter Vietnam, Singapore, Thailand and the Philippines, after Uber struck a deal to sell its Southeast Asian operations to Grab — the bigger player in the region.

Go-Jek is seeing strong funding interest from its backers as it targets an aggressive expansion, Makarim said.

“Since its Aug. 1 launch, the app has already grabbed 15 percent of market share in Ho Chi Minh,” Makarim said. The firm this week opened recruitment for motorcycle drivers in Thailand.

The startup expects anti-monopoly concerns swirling around the Grab-Uber deal, which Singapore said had substantially hurt competition, to help clear a path for its expansion.

“We’re bringing back choice. The Singapore government is particularly eager to bring back competition,” Makarim said, adding that the order of overseas rollouts had not been set.

Go-Jek’s offshore push comes at a time when Singapore-based Grab is stepping up funding to expand in Indonesia and transform itself into a consumer technology company, starting with a partnership with online grocer HappyFresh.

“Mimicking Go-Jek’s strategy is the highest form of flattery,” laughed Makarim.

Grab told Reuters in a statement, “The super app strategy has been around for a while now and no Southeast Asian player can claim to have pioneered it.” The company also said Grab has not lost market share in Ho Chi Minh since August, but declined to provide market share data.

Makarim believes Go-Jek’s understanding of food merchants will give it an edge over Grab, which counts investors such as Chinese ride-hailing firm Didi Chuxing and Japan’s SoftBank Group Corp. among its backers.

Makarim, who sees food delivery as Go-Jek’s core business, said he was not concerned about funding, without giving details.

Go-Jek was reported in June as being in talks to raise $1.5 billion in a new funding round and was valued at about $5 billion in a prior fundraising, sources have told Reuters. The firm had said in March it was considering a domestic IPO.

Makarim noted Go-Jek’s backers were sharing both capital and expertise. The company is collaborating with Alphabet Inc’s Google on platform mobility, Tencent on payments strategy, JD.com on logistics operations, and Meituan Dianping on merchant transactions and deliveries.

Go-Jek has set up a venture capital arm, Go-Ventures, to invest in startups in Southeast Asia “with strategic importance to our business,” the CEO said.