Powerful shareholders are lobbying SoftBank to help bring about an alliance between ride-hailing groups Grab and Gojek, south-east Asia’s biggest internet unicorns, which are bleeding cash in a bruising battle for market share, according to multiple people with knowledge of the discussions.
The talks centre on a tie-up in Indonesia. The world’s fourth-most populous country is the most lucrative market for Jakarta-headquartered Gojek, whose backers include Tencent and Google, and Singapore-based Grab, which counts SoftBank and Microsoft as investors. Both have intensified efforts to win customers there in the past 18 months.
“The forces at play here are higher than simply what Grab or Gojek want — or indeed don’t want. This is about a number of long-term influential shareholders in both companies who want to either stem the losses or find a way to exit their investments,” said one Grab investor.
There have been on and off talks between the two bitter rivals for at least two years, but in recent months there has been a new urgency, these people added.
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