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Taxi operator Trans-cab revives IPO plan

Singapore

TRANS-CAB Services, Singapore's second-largest taxi operator, is reviving its plans for an initial public offering (IPO), according to people with knowledge of the matter, as the city-state prepares to tighten regulations on its ride-hailing rivals.

The company is seeking a valuation of as much as S$200 million, the people said, asking not to be identified as the process is private. The taxi operator aims to list on the Catalist board for smaller stocks as soon as the first quarter of next year, according to them.

Trans-cab's second attempt at a listing comes as Singapore gets ready to license ride-hailing operators like Grab and Gojek from June 2020, which have become an important part of the city's transportation system.

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The move underscores the government's effort to bring safety-related rules for the services in line with taxi operators to better protect commuters and drivers.

The company had sought a listing to raise about S$100 million in 2014, though it eventually called off the IPO after getting new information about its insurance premium. It was looking for a market valuation of around S$456 million then, according to a Straits Times report in 2014.

The company, headed by managing director Teo Kiang Ang who started the firm with 50 taxis in 2003, is now seeking to stem the decline in the taxi business by expanding into car financing and leasing, according to a Straits Times interview with Mr Teo last month.

Deliberations are at an early stage and details of the potential offering including timeline and size could still change, the sources said.

Trans-cab did not respond to emails seeking comment and calls to the company's general line went unanswered.

Trans-cab oversaw a fleet of 3,098 cars by the end of June, far behind market leader ComfortDelGro Corp's 11,467 vehicles under its Comfort and CityCab brands, data from the Land Transport Authority showed.

Currently, there are about 20,000 taxis and 45,000 private hire cars, providing 6 per cent of all journeys in Singapore.

Shares of ComfortDelGro have risen more than 16 per cent this year, outperforming the 2.6 per cent rise in the benchmark Straits Times Index. SMRT Corp, which also operates taxis in Singapore, delisted in 2016 after it was acquired by state investment company Temasek Holdings. BLOOMBERG