BlackRock, Indonesia join $300m funding for Southeast Asian travel startup

TRAVELOKA has secured $300 million in new financing from investors including BlackRock Inc., as Southeast Asia’s biggest online travel startup counts on a post-Covid rebound to expand in the region.

The Jakarta-based company said in a statement Thursday it struck a deal for financing with investors including Allianz Global Investors and the Indonesia Investment Authority.

The size of the funding round is significantly larger than the previously discussed target of about $200 million that Bloomberg News reported in June. Traveloka, backed by investors including GIC Pte and Expedia Group Inc., is considering an initial public offering in the US or in Indonesia, according to a person familiar with the matter, who asked to remain anonymous discussing a private matter.

Southeast Asia’s tourism industry plunged into crisis during the pandemic when lockdowns all but brought travel to a halt. Traveloka ventured into financial services during the pandemic by partnering with banks including PT Bank Rakyat Indonesia and PT Bank Negara Indonesia.

Many countries are now removing pandemic-era restrictions and reopening borders. For example, Thailand — where international tourism contributes about 12% to gross domestic product — has seen a rush of foreign travelers in recent months after scrapping restrictions in July.

Regional startups are raising funds despite worries about a global economic downturn, hoping to position themselves for an eventual rebound. Traveloka helps consumers book a range of services including airline tickets and hotels as well as spas and tourism attractions. It also offers food delivery and financing, payment and insurance products. Its app has been downloaded more than 100 million times, according to its website.

The valuation of the deal is unclear. Traveloka had been valued at $3 billion, according to CB Insights, but Bloomberg News reported in 2020 that it was seeking funds at a lower valuation. – BLOOMBERG