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Business deals

Gojek bags $150m from Indonesian mobile operator Telkomsel

State-owned company joins Google and Facebook in backing superapp

Telkomsel is one of few Indonesian companies to invest in the home-grown decacorn that has expanded across Southeast Asia.   © Reuters

JAKARTA -- Indonesian superapp provider Gojek has bagged $150 million from Telkomsel, the country's state-owned mobile operator, as it adjusts to new business conditions brought about by COVID-19.

Both companies had been business partners for a while, with Telkomsel providing Gojek drivers with cheap data options, but this marks the first time the mobile operator will be making an investment into the decacorn, or private companies valued at over $10 billion.

Both companies announced the investment on Tuesday.

Telkomsel is a joint venture between state-owned telco giant Telkom Indonesia and Singapore's Singtel. The mobile operator's parent, Telkom, was reportedly close to investing in Gojek back in 2018, but the deal fell through when it failed to secure backing from top ministerial figures.

The latest investment is a further boost to Gojek, having received capital injections from U.S. tech giants Facebook and PayPal in June. Gojek raised more than $3 billion in its Series F round, which the two tech companies took part in.

Telkomsel joins a long list of Gojek investors that also includes Google and U.S. private equity firm KKR but is one of few Indonesian companies to invest in the decacorn; other known Indonesian investors include local conglomerates Djarum and Astra.

As of mid-July, Gojek's largest shareholder was Gamvest, an entity owned by Singapore state investor GIC. Google was the second largest shareholder followed by KKR and China's Tencent.

The superapp has seen its business disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic, especially its ride-hailing service, and has been focusing on payments and food deliveries in a bid to weather the storm. It recently announced that "Gojek-branded services are all now generating positive margins on a product basis," which it calls "a significant milestone as it indicates a strong path to profitability."

The additional funds from Telkomsel "puts us in an even better financial position as we look to navigate the years that lie ahead," said Andre Soelistyo, co-CEO of Gojek.

Other Indonesian unicorns -- startups valued at over $1 billion -- have also been busy raising funds amid the pandemic. E-commerce platforms Tokopedia and Bukalapak were the recipients of U.S. big tech companies' capital, with the former bagging an investment from Google, while the latter received funds from Microsoft in November.

The travel booking unicorn Traveloka, meanwhile, raised $250 million from international investors, including the Qatar Investment Authority.

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