Honda, Grab Seals Partnership With Strategic Investment

December 13
5:00 AM 2016

Japanese automaker and the world's largest manufacturer of motorcycles, Honda, has placed an investment of an undisclosed amount into Grab, Southeast Asia's ride-providing service.

With an increased competition from the likes of Uber, Grab's partnership with Honda seeks to give a boost to its services. It will also work on a joint effort for safety initiatives for the ride-hailing firm's drivers.

SoftBank led a $750 million funding round in Grab in September, part of which was formed by the Honda investment.

"Our number one missions is to provide a safe and reliable transportation service, and so the key focus of this will be Honda doing driver safety training at centers and also at their dealers," Ming Maa, Grab's president and former executive at SoftBank, stated in an interview with CNBC.

Ming Maa, who was active in SoftBank's investment ventures, was appointed as Grab's president in October. His appointment marks Grab's interest to capitalize on a growth opportunity.

According to Mr. Maa, the company is still studying how the partnership will evolve over time. Although he did not provide further details, he said there are technology-focused areas the two companies are looking to collaborate on.

Grab, whose market is focused in Southeast Asia, currently runs operations 34 cities across six countries in the region. It is facing an increased competition as Uber is expanding in Southeast Asia. Another competitor, Go-jek, has earlier closed a $550 million funding round.

"Transportation is a very local problem. The transportation issues in Jakarta are very different to New York or San Francisco," he said, stressing that Grab could stay ahead of competitors by being local.

Grab is planning on accepting cash payments from customers to cater to Southeast Asians who do not have bank accounts or cards.

When asked about the company possibly going public soon, he said, "We are laser-focused on keeping our heads down and focused on solving problems for consumers. We are not specifically planning for an IPO, but anything is obviously possible."

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