Indonesia’s Traveloka plans US listing via SPAC in 2021

With the impact of the pandemic pummeling the travel industry worldwide, Traveloka was said to be close to raising funds last July at a lower valuation than its previous funding rounds. (Photo by Bloomberg)

With the impact of the pandemic pummeling the travel industry worldwide, Traveloka was said to be close to raising funds last July at a lower valuation than its previous funding rounds. (Photo by Bloomberg)

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(Feb 16): Traveloka, Southeast Asia’s biggest online travel startup, is planning to list in the U.S. this year to raise funds using a special purpose acquistion company, known as SPAC, according to Chief Executive Offer Ferry Unardi.

“SPAC is very efficient,” Unardi said in an interview with Bloomberg Television on Tuesday. “If we can do it faster we can then focus on execution and growing the company.” Traveloka may consider to list in Indonesia at a later stage, he added.

Traveloka adds to a list of Indonesian startups seeking similar U.S. listings via the SPAC method, which allows them to use funds raised from the IPOs to buy a private company that then takes over the listing. Ride-hailing giant Gojek and e-commerce platform PT Tokopedia, are said to be finalizing merger terms before listing the combined entity in Jakarta and the U.S.

Investors including Expedia Group Inc., Rocket Internet SE, Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund GIC Pte, and JD.com have helped boost Traveloka’s valuation over the years. It was valued at US$3 billion in 2017, according to CB Insights.

Traveloka is said to have hired JPMorgan Chase & Co. for a public listing in the U.S. to take advantage of a boom in the IPO market. Unardi said the company will explore options for a merger or an acquisition after completing the IPO.

Since it was founded in 2012, Traveloka has expanded across Southeast Asia, making it easier for consumers to book flights and hotels across countries. Like its competitors, the company has since moved beyond its roots to offer a vast array of services including lifestyle and even financial services.

With the impact of the pandemic pummeling the travel industry worldwide, Traveloka was said to be close to raising funds last July at a lower valuation than its previous funding rounds. It has also cut an unspecified number of roles since the start of the outbreak, including about 80 jobs in Singapore last April.

“Last year was difficult, we had to assess our organization, business, we had to make very difficult decisions,” said Unardi.

Traveloka plans to invest more in its new travel-now-pay-later product to attract more travelers, he said. The company’s travel business is now back in profit amid looser restrictions, even at lower volumes, Unardi said.