Alibaba eyeing cornerstone stake in Grab

Original article by Robert Stockdill, Inside Retail, September 15, 2020

Attracted by a massive database of customer behaviour spanning eight countries, Chinese tech giant Alibaba is said to be on the brink of investing US$3 billion into Grab Holdings.

With its origins as a ride-hailing company Grab has expanded into an app-anchored ecosystem covering food delivery, payments, courier services and wealth management. It also operates cloud kitchens in several markets.

In Southeast Asia, where the vast majority of Grab’s business is conducted, there would be potential synergies with Alibaba’s Lazada online marketplace, not just through marketing alliances and cross-promotions, but in last-mile delivery solutions.

Citing “people familiar with the matter,” Bloomberg has reported that Alibaba will deploy some of the funds to acquiring part of Uber’s stake in Grab, the result of a merger deal in March 2018 which saw Uber’s regional operations and brand name disappear leaving Grab in a market-dominating position.

Grab currently has a market valuation of $14 billion which means Alibaba’s investment would equate to about 20 per cent of its value.