SoftBank Steps Up Pressure For Grab, Gojek Deal

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Masayoshi Son, founder of SoftBank, is trying to forge a truce between rivals Grab and Gojek so the two companies can continue negotiating an acquisition, Bloomberg reported.

Representatives of the two Southeast Asia-based ride-hailing companies have been speaking on Zoom calls recently to work the deal out. Son is ramping up the pressure on Grab Co-Founder and CEO Anthony Tan, according to Bloomberg. One of the key points left to be determined is whether Grab will acquire all of Gojek’s operations or just the business in Indonesia.

Tan prefers the narrower acquisition, which could give him more control after the deal’s conclusion and enable him to run the Indonesian segment as a subsidiary of Grab, Bloomberg reported. But Gojek wants a broader deal throughout southeast Asia because it would end up with a bigger portion of the merged business.

The two companies revived stalled merger talks in September after a six-month pause, urged to do so by SoftBank and other investors as the companies continued to lose money because of the pandemic’s economic effects. SoftBank was the reason the talks stalled in the first place months prior, but the company has since come around to the idea. The merger, according to analysts, could push both Grab and Gojek to profitability.

Son is Grab’s biggest investor and has been pushing for the regional deal, Bloomberg reported. The talks have brought out the tensions between Tan and Son, who has been a strong supporter of Tan’s vision for Grab as it expanded from ride-hailing into food delivery.

However, Grab’s losses have begun to grate on Son in the aftermath of SoftBank’s collapsed WeWork deal as well as the worldwide pandemic, Bloomberg reported. And the animosity between the two companies has confused SoftBank, which sees the merger as an obvious choice that would come with benefits.

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