Grab raises $300 million for fintech arm’s ambitious expansion

Grab raises $300 million for fintech arm’s ambitious expansion
Backed by investors including Softbank Group Corp, Grab is seeking to evolve into an everyday app offering a variety of services. (AFP file photo)
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Updated 14 January 2021

Grab raises $300 million for fintech arm’s ambitious expansion

Grab raises $300 million for fintech arm’s ambitious expansion
  • Grab said this is the first external funding for the fintech business
  • Grab competes with the likes of Indonesia’s Gojek

SINGAPORE: Southeast Asian ride-hailing and food delivery giant Grab has raised more than $300 million from investors led by South Korea’s Hanwha Asset Management Co. Ltd. for its rapidly-expanding financial services business.
Grab said this is the first external funding for the fintech business, which has chalked out ambitious plans in insurance, lending, wealth management and payments.
Grab competes with the likes of Indonesia’s Gojek and many local start-ups that are attracting millions of customers as they look to disrupt established financial services companies in a region home to some 650 million people.
“We are at an inflection point in Southeast Asia, as the pandemic has accelerated the need for digital financial services that help us grow and protect our incomes,” Reuben Lai, senior managing director at Grab Financial Group said in a statement.
Grab’s early backers such as GGV Capital and Singapore venture capital firm K3 Ventures also participated in the fintech arm’s funding. New investors included fintech investment firm Flourish Ventures, backed by EBay founder Pierre Omidyar.
“As more and more of our life, work and activities move online, tech platforms have played a big role in formalizing the economy,” Tilman Ehrbeck, managing partner at Flourish said.
“They have a real opportunity to bring financial services to the users who often are not reached by the traditional banking system, particularly true in Southeast Asia, which has a relatively higher mobile Internet penetration,” he said.
Reuters reported in September, citing sources, that Grab was negotiating with insurers including Prudential PLC, AIA Group Ltd. and others to raise $300 million to $500 million for the financial services unit.
In December, Internet platform company Sea Ltd. and Grab’s venture with Singtel each won Singapore’s first digital full bank licenses.
Backed by investors including Softbank Group Corp, Grab is seeking to evolve into an everyday app offering a variety of services.


Canadian firm pulls out of Carrefour takeover after France insists ‘No’

Canadian firm pulls out of Carrefour takeover after France insists ‘No’
Updated 16 January 2021

Canadian firm pulls out of Carrefour takeover after France insists ‘No’

Canadian firm pulls out of Carrefour takeover after France insists ‘No’
  • Carrefour has more than 12,300 stores in more than 30 countries and employs 320,000 people worldwide
  • Canada's Couche-Tard has offered to take over the French supermarket giant for 16 billion euro ($19.5 billion)

PARIS: Canadian convenience store chain Couche-Tard has reportedly pulled out of a multi-billion euro takeover of supermarket giant Carrefour after the French government said it would veto the deal.
Negotiations over the 16 billion euro ($19.5 billion) deal ended after a meeting between the French Minister of the Economy Bruno Le Maire and the founder of Couche-Tard Alain Bouchard, Bloomberg news agency said, citing sources.
French ministers had insisted Friday they would not agree to the takeover because it could jeopardize food security, an even more important consideration given the coronavirus pandemic.
In an attempt to reassure ministers, Bouchard had promised to invest billions in Carrefour, said he would maintain employment for two years and that the group would be listed on the Paris Stock Exchange in parallel with Canada, Bloomberg reported.
Contacted by AFP, neither Couche-Tard nor Carrefour had confirmed the information on Friday evening.
Although talks had stopped, anonymous sources cited by Bloomberg said negotiations could resume if the French government changes its position.
But on Friday, France’s Economy Minister made his choice public, telling BMTV and RMC: “My position is a polite, but clear and definitive ‘No’.”
“Food security is a strategic consideration for our country and one does not just hand over one of the large French distributors like that,” Le Maire said.
“Carrefour is the biggest private sector employer in France with nearly 100,000 employees,” he noted, and the group accounts for 20 percent of the food distribution market in the country.
The French statements have not convinced the Canadian government.
A Canadian federal source said while they could understand concerns over allowing a foreign firm to take over such a large national employer, concerns over food security were unsubstantiated.
“But we cannot accuse a leading Canadian company like Couche-Tard of endangering the food sovereignty of an entire country,” the source, who requested anonymity, told AFP.

'Food sovereignty'
On Wednesday, Couche-Tard submitted a non-binding offer for Carrefour, valuing the group at more than 16 billion euros ($19.5 billion).
Le Maire made clear immediately that he was not in favor of a deal involving “an essential link in food security for the French, of food sovereignty.”
The government’s reaction had caused “surprise” at Carrefour itself, according to sources who said the comments were “premature” given that merger discussions had barely begun.
“We haven’t decided yet whether the interest shown is attractive for us,” one company official said on condition of anonymity earlier in the week.
Carrefour has more than 12,300 stores of various formats in more than 30 countries and in 2019 generated a net profit of 1.3 billion euros ($1.5 billion) on revenue of 80.7 billion euros ($97.4 billion).
It employs 320,000 people worldwide.
Couche-Tard has a worldwide network of more than 14,200 stores and earned a net profit of $2.4 billion on sales of $54 billion in its last complete year.
In the United States and several European countries, as well as in Latin America and southeast Asia, it operates under Circle K and other brands.