Traveloka close to US$200m funding after SPAC talks — sources

Traveloka close to US$200m funding after SPAC talks — sources
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(June 3): Traveloka, Southeast Asia’s biggest online travel start-up, is close to raising more than US$200 million (about RM877.3 million) from investors after ending talks to go public via a merger with a blank-check company last year, according to people familiar with the matter.

The Jakarta-based firm is pulling in fresh funds after its board decided not to pursue a listing via Bridgetown Holdings Ltd, a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) backed by billionaires Richard Li and Peter Thiel. Traveloka, backed by investors including GIC Pte Ltd and Expedia Group Inc, is aiming for an initial public offering in the US this year but the location and time could still change, the people said, asking not to be named as the matter is private.

A Traveloka representative declined to comment. The current fundraising isn’t finalised and could also change, the people said.

The valuation of the deal now under discussion couldn’t be learned. Traveloka had been valued at US$3 billion, according to CB Insights, but Bloomberg News reported in 2020 that it was seeking funds at a lower valuation.

Southeast Asia’s tourism industry was plunged into a deep crisis during the Covid-19 pandemic when lockdowns all but ground travel to a halt. Traveloka ventured into financial services during the pandemic by partnering with commercial banks including PT Bank Rakyat Indonesia Persero, PT Bank Negara Indonesia and Siam Commercial Bank. 

Things have started to look up this year as Southeast Asian countries removed pandemic-era restrictions and reopened borders for travel. For example, Thailand — where international tourism contributes about 15% to gross domestic product — is seeing a rush of foreign travellers after scrapping its Covid-19 testing and quarantine requirements.

Traveloka claims to be a lifestyle “super-app”, allowing consumers to book a range of services including airline tickets and hotels as well as spas and tourism attractions. It also offers food delivery and financing, payment and insurance products. The app has been downloaded more than 60 million times.