Alibaba is reportedly preparing to invest in Grab

Reports suggest that Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba is in the early stages of making an investment in Grab, the region’s largest ride-hailing firm.
Business Insider/Jonathan Loh

Fresh off its acquisition of Uber’s Southeast Asian operations, it seems the region’s largest ride-hailing firm Grab is looking to Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba for funding to further expand its reach in the market.

Citing two sources with knowledge of the discussion, TechCrunch reported that Alibaba is in the early stages of making an investment in Grab, which was last valued by investors at $6 billion.

Grab, which also counts Japan’s SoftBank as an investor, told Business Insider that it has “no comment on this” while TechCrunch reported that Alibaba “doesn’t confirm on market rumours”.

According to TechCrunch, last summer Alibaba and Grab held fruitless talks about an investment as Alibaba was more focused on investing in Indonesian e-commerce startup Tokopedia, which was also being eyed by Alibaba’s arch-rival Tencent.

Alibaba, which leaned heavily on its long-time ally SoftBank for the deal, eventually invested $1.1 billion in Tokopedia in August, and it also upped its stake in Southeast Asian e-commerce company Lazada to $4 billion.

One condition of SoftBank being attached to the Tokopedia deal was that Alibaba would invest in Grab when the time was right, according to TechCrunch.

In late March, Singapore’s competition authority said it had not received a notification of the Grab-Uber merger and that it is writing to both parties to clarify the details.

The Competition & Consumer Commission Singapore (CCCS) said that Singapore’s competition law prohibits mergers that “may be expected to result in a substantial lessening of competition”.

On Friday (April 6), the CCCS said in a statement that it had received written representations from both Grab and Uber two days earlier.

As the CCCS is still reviewing their submissions, including the proposed alternative interim measures, both Grab and Uber have agreed to extend the initial shut-down date of Uber’s ride-hailing app in Singapore from April 8 to April 15, added the statement.