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Business

Malaysian taxi app grabs $90 million

SINGAPORE -- GrabTaxi, a taxi booking app operator of Malaysian origin, has received a round of investment led by U.S. investment firm Tiger Global Management believed to be worth around $65 million dollars - bringing the total it has raised this year to $90 million.

GrabTaxi is already hailing two taxis per second around Southeast Asia.

     GrabTaxi operates a mobile app for booking taxis in the vicinity by smartphone. The company operates in 17 cities in six Southeast Asian countries, including Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand. The app has been downloaded to more than 2.1 million devices and has over 400,000 active monthly users.

     Two bookings are made every one second through the GrabTaxi platform, according to the company. In Singapore, it reports that 960,000 taxi rides in total are completed on an average day.

     The latest round attracted a new investor, Hillhouse Capital Management from China, as well as existing investors such as Vertex Venture Holdings, a subsidiary of Temasek Holdings, Singapore's state sovereign wealth fund.

     GrabTaxi will use the funds to enlarge its data analytics and IT engineering team. The company faces tough competition from rivals such as U.S.-based Uber and Easy Taxi, which originated in Brazil and is backed by leading e-commerce incubator Rocket Internet.

     Grabtaxi's strategy is to increase the number of registered taxi drivers who take bookings through the app with a view to becoming the largest taxi network in Singapore within six months. Taxi drivers who use the app will be rewarded. A roadshow in November will see cash prizes given out.

     Startups and tech firms based in Southeast Asia have been attracting increasing interest from global investors. In July, Singapore-based grocery e-tailer Redmart received a round of funding from investors including Eduardo Saverin, co-founder of Facebook. In October, Japanese communications giant Softbank announced it will lead a $100 million investment in Tokopedia, Indonesia's leading online retailer.

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