Toy­ota joins Grab’s $2.5-B fund rais­ing, un­veils tie-up

Toy­ota Tsusho joins Didi, SoftBank as Grab in­vestors

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Toy­ota Mo­tor Corp.’s trad­ing arm be­came the lat­est par­tic­i­pant in ride-hail­ing firm Grab’s cur­rent fi­nanc­ing round that is ex­pected to raise $2.5 bil­lion, led by Chi­nese peer Didi Chux­ing and Japan’s Soft-Bank Group Corp. Toy­ota Tsusho Corp., in which Toy­ota Mo­tor is the big­gest stake­holder, has in­vested an undis­closed sum in Grab, the com­pa­nies said in sep­a­rate state­ments on Wed­nes­day.

TOKYO/SIN­GA­PORE — Toy­ota Mo­tor Corp.’s trad­ing arm be­came the lat­est par­tic­i­pant in ride-hail­ing firm Grab’s cur­rent fi­nanc­ing round that is ex­pected to raise $2.5 bil­lion, led by Chi­nese peer Didi Chux­ing and Japan’s SoftBank Group Corp.

Toy­ota Tsusho Corp., in which Toy­ota Mo­tor is the big­gest stake­holder, has in­vested an undis­closed sum in Grab, the com­pa­nies said in sep­a­rate state­ments on Wed­nes­day.

The in­vest­ment is the lat­est in a South­east Asian start-up as ma­jor com­pa­nies seek growth in the re­gion’s huge de­vel­op­ing economies with young, tech­savvy de­mo­graph­ics.

Toy­ota Mo­tor said it would in­stall its driv­ing recorder de­vices in ve­hi­cles op­er­ated by Grab, as the au­tomaker ex­pands fur­ther into new driv­ing ser­vices.

Un­der a pilot pro­gram, Toy­ota will have its Tran­sLog de­vice in­stalled in 100 rental cars op­er­ated by Sin­ga­pore- based Grab, en­abling the com­pa­nies to an­a­lyze driv­ing pat­terns as well as of­fer im­proved ac­cess to con­nected car ser­vices.

Didi and SoftBank are al­ready in­vestors in Grab and other ride­hail­ing ser­vices glob­ally. In July, Grab said the pair would add $2 bil­lion and that $ 500 mil­lion would come from oth­ers, mak­ing the fund rais­ing South­east Asia’s big­gest- ever sin­gle round of fi­nanc­ing.

A per­son close to Grab has said the $2.5-bil­lion fund rais­ing would value the com­pany at $6 bil­lion.

Grab op­er­ates pri­vate car, mo­tor­cy­cle, taxi and car­pool­ing ser­vices across seven coun­tries with 1.2 mil­lion driv­ers.

It said it has a mar­ket share of 95% in third- party taxi- hail­ing and 72% in pri­vate-ve­hi­cle hail­ing in South­east Asia.

But its share could be un­der threat as San Fran­cisco- based Uber, the world’s largest ride­hail­ing ser­vice, is ex­pected to in­crease its fo­cus on the re­gion af­ter it folded its China busi­ness into Didi last year.

The ride-hail­ing sec­tor is cur­rently dom­i­nated by tech­nol­ogy firms, but au­tomak­ers such as Toy­ota, Volk­swa­gen, and Gen­eral Mo­tors have been in­vest­ing in tie-ups with these ser­vice providers to hedge against the shift in the ve­hi­cle mar­ket away from pri­vate own­er­ship.

Toy­ota has al­ready tied up with Uber, pro­vid­ing flex­i­ble ve­hi­cle leas­ing terms for Uber driv­ers, while the two also plan to share research and de­vel­op­ment ef­forts. This agree­ment also in­cludes an undis­closed in­vest­ment in Uber. —

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