By Chen Lin and Anshuman Daga
SINGAPORE (Reuters) – The CEO of Singapore-based Grab told employees in an internal note on Thursday that the company is well placed to make acquisitions, after a report it is close to a merger with regional rival Gojek.
He said that Grab, which has evolved from a Southeast Asian ride-hailing app operator to offer services such as food delivery and insurance, had become profitable before overheads, and business had fully recovered to pre-pandemic levels.
Grab and Indonesia’s Gojek have made substantial progress in talks to merge Southeast Asia’s two most valuable start-ups, Bloomberg reported on Wednesday.
“There is speculation again about a Gojek deal,” Anthony Tan, also Grab’s co-founder, told employees in a note seen by Reuters. “Our business momentum is good, and as with any market consolidation rumours, we are the ones in a position to acquire,” he said.
Grab declined comment on Tan’s note and the media report. Gojek also declined comment.
Sources familiar with the matter have previously said that over the last few years, large investors of the two companies have backed a merger.
Tan, however, did not give any specific information about a potential deal with Gojek. “There will always be rumours and gossip. Don’t let those distract us,” he told staff.
“Even in a tough year like 2020, we are profitable before overheads, hit 100% recovery,” he said, adding that Grab had also become the top food delivery player by revenue in Indonesia, where it is locked in fierce competition with Gojek.
The pandemic is the first crisis for Southeast Asia’s decade-old start-up scene from which Grab has emerged as a household name and its most valuable company at over $15 billion.
Gojek is estimated to be valued at $10 billion.
(Reporting by Chen Lin and Anshuman Daga; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore and Elaine Hardcastle)