Grab Losses Widen To Almost $1 Billion As Pandemic Restrictions Drag Ride-Hailing Business

Grab drivers wait for orders outside Nu Sentral shopping mall in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on March … [+] 18, 2020.

Samsul Said/Bloomberg

Grab Holdings said Thursday its net loss widened to $988 million in the third quarter, from $621 million a year ago, due to exceptional charges and a general decline in the ride-hailing sector following a renewed spike in Covid-19 infections across Southeast Asia, particularly in Vietnam.

The losses include $748 million non-cash items such as interest charges accrued on Grab’s redeemable preference shares, stock-based compensation and fair value changes on investments, Grab said in statement.

The company expects these expenses to cease once the merger with Altimeter Growth Corp., a special purpose acquisition company, is completed by the end of the year. The transaction—which will be the world’s largest SPAC deal—will raise $4.5 billion and give Grab a valuation of $40 billion.

Grab said revenues slipped 9% to $157 million in the third quarter from a year ago, due largely to the severe lockdown in Vietnam where mobility and food delivery services were suspended during most of the quarter.

Despite the weakness in the ride-hailing business, Grab said the group’s gross merchandise value increased 32% to a record $4 billion in the third quarter, bolstered by the 63% jump in GMV for food deliveries to $2.3 billion.

“With recovery in sight, and the gradual reopening of economies providing tailwinds to our business, we are doubling down on investments that will help us capture a greater share of the opportunities in front of us and open up new addressable markets for Grab, such as groceries,” said Anthony Tan, group CEO and cofounder of Grab.

Grab has been expanding into grocery deliveries and financial services as the pandemic accelerated the adoption of e-commerce and other digital platforms. Earlier this month, GrabMart signed partnerships with supermarket and grocery chains across Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam. At the same time, it tied up with e-commerce firm Lazada to provide same-day delivery services to consumers in Singapore via GrabExpress.

In October, Grab said it will more than double its stake in Indonesian mobile wallet operator OVO. In partnership with telecommunications giant Singtel, Grab plans to launch a digital bank in Singapore next year.

Cofounded in 2012 by Anthony Tan and Tan Hooi Ling as a taxi-booking app, Grab has since grown to become a superapp by expanding its business to ride-hailing, food deliveries and digital financial services. The company now serves customers in more than 400 cities across Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.