Malaysian budget airlines AirAsia Group‘s digital arm, AirAsia Digital announced on Wednesday it will acquire Indonesian ride-hailing giant Gojek‘s operations in Thailand for $50 million.

Gojek will receive shareholding in the AirAsia Super App whose market value is around $1 billion, AirAsia said in a statement on Wednesday.

The purchase considerations for the proposed acquisitions will be wholly satisfied by the issue of new shares in the AirAsia SuperApp. Gojek will own 4.76 percent in AirAsia SuperApp after the proposed acquisition, a regulatory filing showed.

“The win-win deal is expected to rev up expansion of the AirAsia Super App in ASEAN, while enabling Gojek to increase investments in its Vietnam and Singapore operations,” AirAsia said in the statement.

The deal provides both parties with a strong foundation to explore additional opportunities for collaboration and synergies in one of the fastest-growing regions in the world, it added.

The proposed acquisition is expected to be completed by the fourth quarter of 2021, AirAsia said. The proposed acquisition is also subject to approval from the central banks of Malaysia and Thailand, Bank Negara Malaysia, and Bank of Thailand.

The stock-swap deal came after AirAsia’s FinTech arm BigPay announced last week that it is applying for a digital banking license in Malaysia.

AirAsia Super App. Photo credit: AirAsia

AirAsia Group is in the midst of building its non-aviation digital businesses and its super app as most of its planes were grounded due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The group is reportedly operating at 19 percent of its pre-pandemic capacity, logging just over 2,000 outbound flights planned for the week of July 19, 2021, compared with 10,800 for the same week in 2019, according to aviation news portal Simple Flight.

“By taking on Gojek’s well-established Thai business, we’ll be able to turbocharge our ambitions in this space to become a leading Asean challenger super app,” AirAsia Group Chief Executive Officer Tony Fernandes said in the statement. He said the group is also setting its sights on bringing its super app offerings to all of its key markets, following the successful rollout in Thailand.

Gojek CEO Kevin Aluwi said the deal will enable the firm to “pivot our focus in international markets towards Vietnam and Singapore — markets providing us with the best return on investment and strategic growth opportunities.”

AirAsia Super App provides a lifestyle platform for travel, e-commerce, financial services, farm to table, health, and EduTech products and services. Fernandes has in March told local media The Edge Weekly that AirAsia is planning to launch ride-hailing services, part of its bigger plan of becoming a super app.

Tencent-backed Gojek started its Thai operations in 2019 and it is providing motorbike ride-hailing, food delivery, courier, and e-wallet (GoPay) in the country. The business reported losses in 2019 and 2020, according to accounts attached to the deal announcement.

Gojek was first established in 2010 focusing on courier and motorcycle ride-hailing services, before launching the app in January 2015 in Indonesia. Since then, Gojek has grown to become an on-demand platform in Southeast Asia, providing access to a wide range of services from transportation, to food delivery, logistics, and many others.

As of March 2021, Gojek’s application and its ecosystem have been downloaded more than 190 million times by users across Southeast Asia.

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