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Grab president says ride-hailer can expand without additional funding

Despite continued market scepticism over “unicorns”, the president of Singapore-based ride-hailer Grab remains bullish on the prospects of sustained growth for his company.

Ming Maa said in a recent phone interview with Nikkei, “We certainly do not need to raise [new] capital in order to create a sustainable business”.

Grab is one of Southeast Asia’s largest unicorns, as non-listed companies valued at over $1 billion are called. The ride-hailer is worth around $14 billion.

Grab has raised a significant amount of cash from venture capital firms, including SoftBank Group’s Vision Fund, as well as Japanese automakers Toyota and Honda. In 2016, Ming Maa joined Grab as president from SoftBank Group to spearhead the company’s business development and tie-up strategy.

“We actually are profitable in some of our key markets,” Maa said, adding, “We are very, very comfortable with our current balance sheet and without [additional] funding we have a very clear path to creating a very sustainable business.”

Maa said Grab still remains open to further investment. “There continues to be a lot of interesting investors who are interested in accessing the Southeast Asian market by partnering with Grab, so we always evaluate case by case. And, at the end of the day, if there is a partnership [that] we believe creates a tremendous amount of value for our customers and our partners, of course, we look at that.”

The market has been keeping a serious eye on unicorns of late. We Company, the owner of office-sharing service WeWork, fell into financial difficulty last year after it was forced to delay its IPO. Also remaining sluggish were shares in U.S. ride-hailers Uber and Lyft, which both went public last year.

Grab has gained a significant amount of additional customers in Southeast Asia through the development of a “super app” that lets people access multiple services, including ride-hailing, food delivery and online payments, via a single app.

In recent years, Grab has moved into multiple new businesses. Late last year, together with Singapore Telecommunications, the country’s largest telecom company, it applied for an internet banking license. “Consumers and smaller businesses have not been provided with the same level of transparency, simplicity, and cost-effectiveness in financial service products, and that is the opportunity that we see,” Maa said.

As for relations with Japanese companies, Maa said Grab has collaborated with Toyota to reduce maintenance costs using driving data and launched an electric motorcycle pilot service in Indonesia with Honda. Maa said the company is also partnering with SoftBank to promote smart cities and electric vehicles.

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