Grab is reportedly in talks to sell a “decent-sized stake” in its Thai entity to Thailand’s largest retailer, Central Group.
According to a source familiar with the development, this will be a “deeply strategic partnership” that will see Grab tap into Central’s extensive business presence in the country.
Grab currently offers ride-hailing, parcel delivery and food delivery services in Thailand, but it also has plans to launch GrabFresh — its grocery delivery service — by this year.
For its food delivery arm, Grab already has an existing partnership with Central where it delivers food from Central restaurants.
If the deal with Central Group goes through, it will expand Grab’s existing partnership with the retailer beyond food delivery to areas such as digital payment and e-commerce.
Prior to this, Grab has expressed its interest in partnering JD Central, a US$500 million e-commerce joint venture that Central launched earlier this year with China’s e-commerce giant JD.com.
The size of the deal is still not confirmed, though discussions have been ongoing for some time.
It’s also interesting to note that JD.com is an investor in Grab’s rival Go-Jek.
Furthermore, this talk is at the back of Go-Jek’s pending entry to Thailand, which has plans for a US$500 million investment to enter Thailand and other countries in the region.
No Comment From Grab
Grab, which counts Uber Technologies, Japan’s SoftBank Group Corp, Toyota Motor, and China’s ride-hailing firm Didi Chuxing among its backers, said it would not comment on “rumours and speculation”. Central also did not respond to a request for comment.
“Aligning itself with the Central Group could help Grab get faster approvals in developing its ride-hailing and digital payments businesses,” Nattabhorn Juengsanguansit, Director at Asia Group Advisors, told Reuters.
“The deal represents potential synergies for both sides, for example in lowering transportation costs for Central’s food and e-commerce businesses.”
The deal could also help Grab navigate required new regulatory standards, added Jay Harriman, senior director at BowerGroupAsia.
Central Group, owned by the billionaire Chirathivat family, also manages shopping centres and hotels across Thailand.
Featured Image Credit: Grab