Singapore-headquartered ride-hailing and food delivery giant Grab Holdings Inc is said to be eyeing a stake in AMMB Holdings Bhd (AmBank), Malaysia’s sixth-largest banking group by assets (as at Mar 31, 2021), local media The Edge Malaysia reported over the weekend.

AmBank’s two largest shareholders Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd and the group’s former chairman Azman Hashim are likely to be the sellers, the business weekly paper reported, quoting several persons familiar with the matter.

ANZ has a 21.68 percent stake in AmBank while, Azman, who retired as the banking group’s chairman March-end, owns 11.83 percent stake, the group’s latest annual report showed. Listed on the Malaysian stock exchange, shares of AmBank closed at MYR3.64 ($0.83) on Monday, giving it a market capitalization of MYR12.06 billion ($2.75 billion).

The news came after the Grab-led consortium, comprised of Grab-Singapore Telecommunications Ltd (Singtel)’s digital bank joint ventures GXS Bank Pte Ltd and Kuok Brothers Sdn Bhd, was awarded a digital banking license in Malaysia end of April. GXS Bank will hold a 55.45 percent stake in the proposed Malaysia digital bank, Grab announced then. The Grab-Singtel consortium has earlier secured a digital bank license in Singapore in December 2020.

When contacted about the potential acquisition, Grab’s communications team said the company “will not comment on rumors and speculation”.

It is not uncommon for well-funded tech firms like Grab to acquire stakes in banks. In January, Grab and Singtel have each bought a 16.3 percent stake in PT Bank Fama International from Indonesian conglomerate Elang Mahkota Teknologi Tbk (Emtek), the majority owner of the bank as they wished to pursue banking opportunities in Indonesia. Singtel and Grab were each paying 500 billion rupiah ($35 million) for their individual stakes, according to earlier media reports.

Grab’s rival Gojek, an Indonesia-headquartered super app, acquired a 22 percent stake in Indonesia-based Bank Jago in December 2020. Later in November 2021, Bank Jago partnered GoPay, Gojek’s FinTech arm, to offer digital banking services via Gojek super app.

Grab made its debut on the Nasdaq in December last year, following a $40 billion merger with a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC). The listing on Nasdaq is expected to provide up to approximately $4.5 billion in cash proceeds to Grab.

The company later announced plans to acquire Malaysia-based premium supermarket chain Jaya Grocer.

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