Grab co-founder reassures investors

FILE PHOTO: A man walks past a Grab office in Singapore. REUTERS/Edgar Su

SINGAPORE: Grab Holdings Ltd chief executive officer Anthony Tan kicked off his first investor day by trying to reassure shareholders that the Singaporean company is adjusting to a market downturn and speeding up efforts to reverse years of losses.

“Looking ahead, we’re firing on all cylinders to improve our profitability trajectory,” Tan said at the company’s event in the city-state yesterday.

“Grab is trying to achieve this by growing our top line in a sustainable manner.”

Grab, long considered one of the rising stars of South-East Asia, has struggled since it went public through a merger with a special purpose acquisition company in December.

Shares have tumbled more than 70% as the company wracked up losses and the stock market soured on unprofitable tech ventures.

Grab, which counts Japan’s SoftBank Group Corp and Uber Technologies Inc as two biggest shareholders, went public by merging with Altimeter Capital Management’s special-purpose acquisition company in what was originally a US$40bil (RM184.43bil) deal.

Grab’s market capitalisation has declined to US$10.8bil (RM49.80bil) as of the most recent close.

The company started out focused on the ride-hailing business and competed effectively against Uber.

The US company ended up selling Grab its business in South-East Asia in return for a stake in its Singaporean rival.

Grab then launched an ambitious – and expensive – campaign to expand into adjacent businesses, including food delivery and finance.

It also added everything from hotel bookings and health services to gifts and entertainment experiences to its app.

Tan’s vision of creating a so-called superapp for South-East Asia was aggressive, but led to extensive losses.

Grab lost US$3.4bil (RM15.68bil) in 2021 and has piled up almost US$1bil (RM4.61bil) of losses in the first two quarters of this year.

Chief operating officer Alex Hungate said Grab will now have a more defined strategy, outlining an effort to make the company “South-East Asia’s largest and most efficient on-demand platform that enables local commerce and mobility.”

“This is not just a bunch of words on a page,” Hungate said. “This defines our strategy in a more focused way than we’ve ever defined before.” — Bloomberg

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