Traveloka seeks fresh funds to grow

  • Corporate News
  • Thursday, 09 Jul 2020

Raising funds: Traveloka, south-east Asia’s biggest online travel startup, has investors betting on it despite the recent Covid-19-induced slump.

SINGAPORE: Traveloka, South-East Asia’s biggest online travel startup, is close to raising fresh funds at a private-market valuation of about US$2.75bil – roughly 17% less than its most recent fundraising, according to people familiar with the matter.

The Jakarta-based firm is in advanced negotiations with new strategic investors such as Siam Commercial Bank Pcl and Richard Li’s FWD Group Ltd, as well as existing backers GIC Pte and East Ventures to secure about US$250mil, the people said, asking not to be named because the discussions are private. The primary fundraising will be at a US$2.75bil valuation, while a secondary sale will be at US$2.4bil, one of the people said. Traveloka counts online travel site Expedia Group Inc and Inc among its existing backers.

Terms of the fundraising could still change, they said. A Traveloka representative declined to comment.

Traveloka, which has had its business hammered by the coronavirus fallout, is one of the first unicorns in South-East Asia to experience a down-round – raising funds at a lower valuation than the previous funding round. It reflects the sharp drop in business after lockdown orders halted flights and travel. Since the outbreak, the company has cut an unspecified number of positions, including about 80 jobs in Singapore in April.

The travel industry is witnessing a sharp decline in business since the spread of the coronavirus. Expedia saw its total gross booking fall 39% in the first quarter, while its share price has dropped 21% this year. Vacation-rental startup Airbnb Inc cut 25% of its workforce and raised an additional US$2bil in debt to help weather the downturn.

Despite the slump, some Traveloka investors are betting on the travel industry’s eventual recovery, led by a rebound in tourism within countries, and a series of cost-cutting measures at the company, one of the people said. In Vietnam – a model case in containing the pandemic with fewer than 400 cases and no deaths – domestic travel has restarted.

With a population of 570 million and growing middle class, South-East Asia’s six largest economies are expected to see their online travel market more than double from US$34bil in 2019 to US$78bil in 2025, according to the most recent report by Google, Temasek and Bain released in October.

Since its inception in 2012, Traveloka’s valuation has climbed to US$3.3bil, according to the people. It has expanded across South-East Asia, making it easier for consumers to book flights and hotels across countries.

Like other startups in the region, Traveloka followed a popular playbook of providing multiple products and extending into financial services to complement its travel, accommodation and lifestyle offerings.

Traveloka chief executive officer Ferry Unardi said in an interview at the New Economy Forum in Beijing in November that the company is considering an initial public offering in Indonesia and in the US in two to three years. — Bloomberg

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