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Indonesian ride-hailing firm Go-Jek to expand to Philippines in 2018

SINGAPORE, Dec 7 (Reuters) - Indonesia motorbike-hailing startup Go-Jek plans to set up operations in the Philippines in early 2018, with other Southeast Asian countries to follow later that year, the company’s chief technology officer said on Thursday.

Go-Jek, backed by private equity firms KKR & Co LP and Warburg Pincus LLC, competes with Uber Technologies and Singapore-based Grab to lure customers in the Southeast Asian market, home to 600 million people.

Ajey Gore said in an interview that “almost all Southeast Asian countries are on the radar over the next three, six to 12 months. The Philippines will be the first one just to figure out how things work.”

He declined to identify which other countries it would launch in next. Apart from Indonesia and the Philippines, Southeast Asia comprises Malaysia, Singapore, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Brunei, East Timor and Myanmar.

Gore declined to comment on reports about funding and whether the company had any plans for an IPO. The company is also backed by venture capitalist Sequoia Capital and recently raised funds from Chinese giants and Tencent Holdings Ltd.

Gore said that his team would test some of Go-Jek’s core services such as transportation and then payments, “just to pilot it, learn from mistakes.” It would be the company’s first such operation overseas, he said.

Key concerns were to test whether the company’s data and systems applied elsewhere: in Indonesia, for example, motorcycles were more expensive than some cars because they could weave through traffic, making journeys faster, he said.

He said the company was also planning to roll out new services soon, including installing charging stations in retail outlets that users can access through their app. The company also plans to launch a laundry pick-up and delivery service. (Reporting by Jeremy Wagstaff; Editing by Stephen Coates)