Grab Holdings—led by tycoon Anthony Tan—narrowed its losses in the first quarter as demand for its ride-hailing and delivery services surged after governments across Southeast Asia lifted Covid-19 restrictions.
The Singapore-based company said late Thursday that its net loss narrowed to $435 million in the three months ended March 31 from $666 million the previous year, while revenue increased 6% to $228 million as Grab booked maiden contributions from Malaysian grocery chain Jaya Grocer, which it acquired in January.
“We delivered strong top-line growth in deliveries as we expanded our merchant selection to give users more reasons to choose Grab,” Tan, cofounder and group CEO of Grab, said in a statement. “Our mobility business also rebounded and we expect it to gradually recover as Covid restrictions ease further and our active driver base increases.”
Grab shares jumped 24% to close at $3.14 in New York, the most since its market debut six months ago. Despite the rally overnight, the stock is still down more than 70% from its intraday peak of $13.59 when it started trading on December 2, as investors wonder when the Southeast Asian super app will become profitable.
“We are optimistic that our business will continue to strengthen as more countries pivot to living with Covid-19,” Tan told analysts in a quarterly earnings call. “Looking ahead, we are laser focused on meeting our profitability targets and growing sustainably.”
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For the full year, Grab said it expects revenue to increase to between $1.2 billion and $1.3 billion, compared with $675 million in 2021, bolstered by a 30% to 35% increase in gross merchandise value and continuing contributions from Jaya Grocer.
Apart from the improvements in its deliveries and mobility business, Grab said its payments platform is gaining traction with the introduction of buy now pay later service. Grab and partner Singtel are preparing to launch their Singapore digital bank in the second half. The duo, in partnership with billionaire Robert Kuok’s Kuok Brothers, also won a digital bank license in Malaysia last month.
“Winning the Malaysia digital bank license allows us to create a regional digital bank footprint in a cost-efficient manner,” Tan said. “We plan to leverage the same technology stack for out digital banks in Singapore and Malaysia and our Indonesian bank investment to sustainably scale access to financial services across the region.”
Cofounded in 2012 by Tan and Tan Hooi Ling as a taxi-booking app akin to Uber, Grab has since grown to become a superapp by expanding its business to ride-hailing, food deliveries and digital financial services, which has earned the Southeast Asian startup comparisons to DoorDash and PayPal. The self-described “everyday everything” app operates in over 400 cities and towns across Southeast Asia, including in Singapore, Malaysia, Cambodia, Indonesia, Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.