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DealStreetAsia

Indonesia's Traveloka to suspend merger talks with a SPAC

The unicorn's plan shaken by waning SPAC market

An employee works at Traveloka's headquarters in Jakarta, Indonesia. The company is now likely to go public via a traditional IPO in the U.S., raising up to $400 million.   © Reuters

CEBU, Philippines -- Indonesian unicorn Traveloka has decided not to pursue talks to list in the U.S. through a merger with Bridgetown Holdings, a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) backed by billionaires Richard Li and Peter Thiel, DealStreetAsia has learnt. The news was first reported by Bloomberg.

The development comes as enthusiasm in the SPAC market has reportedly waned after more than 400 blank check companies raised over $115.6 billion this year, mainly on Wall Street.

Instead of continuing the advanced talks with Bridgetown Holdings, the first of the three SPACs formed by Thiel Capital and Pacific Century, Traveloka is likely to go public via a traditional initial public offering in the U.S. to raise up to $400 million.

In February, Traveloka first floated plans to list in the U.S. this year using a SPAC. It had started laying the ground for an IPO as early as 2017.

In April, sources confirmed that Traveloka was in advanced talks to merge with Bridgetown, which raised $595 million in a U.S. IPO in October, making it the biggest blank check company focused on Southeast Asia.

Bloomberg reported the Indonesian travel unicorn may revisit talks with Bridgetown or another SPAC if the market recovers.

Before the COVID-19 crisis struck, Traveloka was set to raise funding at a valuation of $4 billion, according to an industry executive who spoke to DealStreetAsia earlier. However, the company saw its valuation tumble to $2.75 billion during negotiations with potential investors.

Earlier, Southeast Asian unicorn Grab pushed back its planned U.S. listing to the end of this year from the original target of July. Grab plans to go public on Nasdaq through a merger with blank check firm Altimeter Growth at a valuation of nearly $40 billion.

A SPAC is a shell company with no operating business, but a pool of capital raised through an IPO that it uses to take a private firm public.

Bridgetown Holdings, the SPAC that Traveloka was supposed to merge with, launched a third blank check company in May, barely five months after the second SPAC raised $299 million.

The second SPAC has merged with Singapore-based online real estate portal PropertyGuru Group.

For the original story from DealStreetAsia, click here.

DealStreetAsia is a financial news site based in Singapore that focuses on private equity, venture capital and corporate investment activity in Asia, especially Southeast Asia, India and greater China. Nikkei owns a majority stake in the company.

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