MALAYSIA: AirAsia Group's digital arm has acquired Indonesia's ride-hailing Gojek business in Thailand for MYR208 million (US$49.1 million) worth of its parent company’s shares, aiming to accelerate its digital expansion plans across the Southeast Asia region.
The deal will involve the Indonesian technology group taking a 4.76% stake in AirAsia's super app in exchange for its operations in Thailand. Gojek says it plans to continue its ongoing investment strategy in Singapore and Vietnam.
AirAsia Digital and Gojek said this was a closed agreement, and an important next step after the budget airline applied for a digital banking licence in Malaysia.
This signalled a shift towards a larger part of digital businesses, as its fleet of aircraft remained grounded due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
AirAsia group CEO Tony Fernandes said the group is set to turbo-charge its ambitions to becoming a challenger super app in Southeast Asia by taking on the already-established business from Gojek.
“We already have a complete digital economy ecosystem. We have successfully established over 15 different non-airline products and lifestyle services on our digital e-commerce platform in Malaysia,” he said. “Now it’s time to take it to the next level.
“In response to overwhelming regional demand, we are setting our sights on bringing our offerings to all of our key markets, following the successful roll out in Thailand.”
Fernades said Gojek would continue operating its app until the end of July 2021, while AirAsia aims to have its super app running by August 2021.
He noted that there were no redundancy plans being conducted due to the deal. He also said this was part of the group's long-term strategy and that the airline would come back even stronger than before the pandemic hit.
“We felt like this was a natural fit for us as we've been in Thailand even longer than Gojek has. We have a large brand and a huge database in every major city in Thailand so this was a logical thing,” he said.
Gojek CEO Kevin Aluwi said the platform looked at various international markets to see where the technology firm could deploy resources.
“We then decided the priority was to invest in Singapore and Vietnam because of the scale of business in the markets, and realised we could not do the same with the business in Thailand. We will however remain committed to our growing markets outside of Indonesia,” he said.