Softbank-backed Grab prepares for 'long winter' as virus hits revenue

FILE PHOTO: A Grab logo is pictured at the Money 20/20 Asia Fintech Trade Show in Singapore March 21, 2019. Picture taken March 21, 2019. REUTERS/Anshuman Daga

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Softbank-backed Grab is preparing for a potentially “long winter”, co-founder Tan Hooi Ling said on Thursday, as the ride-hailing firm’s revenue takes a hit from the coronavirus outbreak.

The Southeast Asian company has seen an uptick in food and parcel deliveries, but its core ride-hailing business has dropped, she said.

Overall revenue was “lower than it used to be pre-COVID”, she said. “During this time, we are preparing for the worst case scenario, which is potentially a very long winter.”

The company is taking measures to be more capital efficient and conserve cash, she said.

Last month, Grab CEO Anthony Tan said the pandemic was the single biggest crisis to affect the eight-year-old company, with volumes in its ride-hailing business down by double-digit percentages in some countries.

Reporting by Aradhana Aravindan and John Geddie; editing by Clarence Fernandez and Jason Neely