AirAsia buys Gojek’s Thai business in share deal worth RM209m, rebranding to happen next month

AirAsia’s deal with Gojek to take over the latter’s Thailand business has gone through. The share deal is worth US$50 million (RM208.8 million), and it will allow AirAsia to expand into ride-hailing, delivery and fintech services in the kingdom without building from scratch.

The share deal will see Gojek receive 4.76% of shares in AirAsia’s SuperApp, one of three key digital businesses of AirAsia Digital, the umbrella for the low-cost carrier’s non aviation ventures. With the disposal of its Thai operations, the Indonesian unicorn will focus on expansion in Vietnam and Singapore.

According to AirAsia group CEO Tony Fernandes, reported by Bangkok Post, negotiations between both parties started two months ago and wrapped up recently. He said that when AirAsia was approached by Gojek, it saw the move as the right opportunity to leverage know-how from Gojek and integrate it with the much stronger brand of AirAsia and expand into food deliveries and fintech services.

The rebranding from Gojek’s GoFood to AirAsia Food will happen early next month. “Under this deal with Gojek, we have also secured a license to operate fintech services in Thailand via GoPay, another ambitious expansion we are eyeing in the country,” Fernandes said.

The BigPay brand will be used once required licenses from the Bank of Thailand have been obtained, and the target is the first quarter of 2022.

AirAsia aims to steer the business towards profitability within one year via expansion beyond Bangkok, starting with three key provinces in the fourth quarter. Phuket, Chiang Mai and Hat Yai are three locations where AirAsia has a presence. Strong brand awareness aside, AirAsia also has the advantage of a large customer database from selling plane tickets for 17 years.

In the food delivery business, GrabFood is the market leader with 50% of Thailand’s US$2.8 billion (RM11.64 billion) market in 2020. Behind Grab is Foodpanda and Line with 23% and 20% share respectively. Gojek’s GoFood had a 7% share of the Thai market. Besides AirAsia, e-commerce giant Shopee is reported to be interested in moving into food delivery in the Land of Smiles.

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