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Uber rival Grab hunts for new deals with SoftBank funding

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Grab, Uber Technologies Inc's fiercest rival in Southeast Asia, is hunting for deals with funding from its biggest backer SoftBank Group Corp.

[SINGAPORE] Grab, Uber Technologies Inc's fiercest rival in Southeast Asia, is hunting for deals with funding from its biggest backer SoftBank Group Corp.

The five-year-old startup has built a team for mergers and acquisitions led by President Ming Maa, with a pipeline of deals under review, Chief Executive Officer Anthony Tan said in an interview Tuesday. He declined to elaborate on specific targets and said the company doesn't have plans for an initial public offering because it has plenty of funding from investors.

Grab's funding has been helped by a strong relationship with SoftBank that has blossomed since Mr Tan first met with Masayoshi Son at the billionaire's Tokyo office in 2014. Mr Tan said he listened to Mr Son's advice to take his money, which was agreed upon with a handshake, and the Japanese company has backed every funding round since.

"The No. 1 priority is how you optimize with the capital you have, and then if there is a lot of capital that can work on your terms," Mr Tan said. "With those two, you probably don't see a need to go IPO any time soon." As SoftBank's biggest investment in Southeast Asia, Mr Tan expects Grab to work closely with Mr Son's company. SoftBank is also a backer of Didi Chuxing, the company that defeated Uber in China.

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The Singapore-based company is waging a pitched and costly battle against Uber and PT Go-Jek Indonesia in ride-sharing across Southeast Asia. The company was said to have raised more than US$1.5 billion from SoftBank and other investors in its most recent funding round - a record for the region. Mr Tan declined to comment on the size of SoftBank's investment or whether it will put more money in.

Grab now operates in seven countries but Uber and Go-Jek - backed by investors including Sequoia Capital and Warburg Pincus - are amassing financing and rapidly expanding their own networks.

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