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Malaysia’s AirAsia to buy Gojek’s Thai business for $50 million in shares

Malaysian budget carrier AirAsia Group will buy Indonesian ride-hailing and payments firm Gojek’s business in Thailand in return for $50 million of shares in part of the airline’s digital business, the companies said on Wednesday.

The deal will give Gojek a 4.76-per-cent stake in AirAsia SuperApp, valuing the division at around $1 billion, more than the pandemic-hit airline’s current market value of $868 million at a time when it has been looking to raise more capital.

The agreement with the Indonesian startup unicorn comes just a week after AirAsia applied for a digital banking licence in Malaysia, signalling a shift in focus towards digital business as most of its fleet remains grounded amid coronavirus restrictions.

“By taking on Gojek’s well-established Thai business, we’ll be able to turbocharge our ambitions in this space to become a leading Asean challenger super app,” AirAsia Chief Executive Tony Fernandes said in a statement.

AirAsia SuperApp, a lifestyle platform for travel, e-commerce, and financial services, is one of three companies under the AirAsia Digital group. The others are logistics venture Teleport and the BigPay fintech business.

Gojek’s Thai business, which includes ride-hailing, food delivery, and payments, is its smallest overseas operation and has a far smaller share of that market than food delivery market leader Grab.

Gojek will focus on increasing investment in Vietnam and Singapore after the deal is completed, the statement said.

Gojek’s Thai business was loss-making in 2019 and 2020, according to accounts provided with the deal announcement.

Nikkei Asia earlier reported that AirAsia was in talks with Gojek to acquire its Thai business.

  • Reporting by Liz Lee in Kuala Lumpur and Anshuman Daga in Singapore; additional reporting by Sameer Manekar in Bengaluru; writing by Jamie Freed; Editing by Shailesh Kuber and Kim Coghill

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