Alibaba Considers $3B Deal With Ride-Hailing App Grab

Alibaba, the Chinese eCommerce behemoth, is reportedly in talks to invest US$3 billion in Singapore-based Grab Holdings, which is best known for its ride-hailing business.

Part of Alibaba’s investment would go to buying up some of the Grab stock owned by San Francisco-based Uber Technologies, sources told Bloomberg. “The deal may represent one of Alibaba’s biggest bets on Southeast Asia since its first investment in Lazada in 2016,” Bloomberg reported. Lazada offers an eCommerce platform.

Alibaba, China’s largest corporation, has not typically ventured into ride-hailing. But, Bloomberg reported, such a deal would give Alilbaba access to data on millions of users in eight countries along with Grab’s various holdings.

An investment by Alibaba’s could boost the growth of Lazada in its fight for market share with Tencent-backed Shopee, Bloomberg reported.

Grab CEO Anthony Tan said the company is facing its “single biggest crisis.” The company has been pounded by pandemic woes along with a pricey competition with its Southeast Asian rival Gojek.

Meanwhile, the two have reportedly been in merger talks, with the blessing of Japan-based SoftBank, a major Grab investor. These latest discussions come as rivals Gojek based in Jakarta, Indonesia, and Grab continue to lose money amid pandemic restrictions.

Previous merger talks stalled. But with SoftBank on board, progress could be made.

Last week, September 8, Grab was reportedly in talks with other possible investors, including Hong Kong-based AIA Group Limited, the publicly-traded life insurance group, Prudential PLC, the British global life insurance and financial services company and others.

Grab has added food delivery and insurance to its services since the start of the pandemic. The US$14 billion global ride-hailing company has been hard hit by the COVID-19 economic crisis.

In June, Grab announced it would lay off more than 300 workers, or about 5% of its workforce, as the pandemic hit the world of ride-hailing. Uber and Lyft have been hit with layoffs as well.