Thailand’s Central Group to invest RM820m in Grab

SINGAPORE • Central Group of Cos, which controls Thailand’s biggest shopping mall and department store operator, plans to invest US$200 million (RM820 million) in ride-hailing giant Grab, people familiar with the matter said.

The deal seals a strategic partnership under which the conglomerate will help Grab expand its business in Thailand, said the people, who asked not to be named because the information is private. Central Group will invest in Grab’s Thai unit, one of the people said. Grab and Central Group representatives declined to comment.

With an empire that also includes hotels, supermarkets and restaurants, Central Group is counting on online growth to help drive sales. The company announced a US$500 million joint venture with Inc in 2017, teaming up with China’s second-largest e-commerce operator. Bloomberg first reported in September it was in talks to buy a significant minority stake in Grab’s local unit.

Grab, which bought out Uber Technologies Inc’s business in South-East Asia, is expanding beyond its roots as a ride-hailing app by adding services such as food delivery, payments and logistics. GrabFood is now available in six major South-East Asian countries and GrabExpress, its logistics and goods delivery service, in 150 cities, according to the company.

The Singapore-based start-up said this week it attracted more than US$3 billion of investments in 2018 as part of its Series H funding round. — Bloomberg