Indonesian ride-hailing app Go-Jek raises over $550 million from investors

JAKARTA (Reuters) - Indonesian ride-hailing service Go-Jek has raised fresh funding of more than $550 million from KKR, Warburg Pincus and other investors, giving it more ammunition in the battle for market share in the country of 250 million people.

A woman rides on the back of a motorbike, part of the Go-Jek ride-hailing service, on a busy street in central Jakarta, Indonesia December 18, 2015. Indonesia's president publicly rebuked one of his cabinet ministers on Friday for a clampdown on ride-hailing services such as Uber and Go-Jek, which triggered outrage on social media in a country where public transport options are limited. REUTERS/Garry Lotulung - RTX1Z7R3

Go-Jek competes with Uber [UBER.UL] and Grab, and investors in its latest round of financing also included Farallon Capital, Capital Group Private Markets and existing shareholders, it said in a statement on Thursday.

Co-founder Nadiem Makarim, a Harvard Business School graduate, said in April that Go-Jek was in talks with potential investors to raise funds.

Go-Jek, a play on the Indonesian word for motorbike taxis, has become popular among commuters on the traffic-clogged streets of Jakarta. It launched its app in 2015 and has expanded into food deliveries, mobile payments and even cleaning services.

The announcement of the latest fund-raising came days after Uber sold its China operations to bigger domestic rival Didi Chuxing and analysts have said Uber may focus its efforts and money elsewhere, such as in Southeast Asia.

Indonesia is a key battleground in the region for ride-hailing firms, which have been driving rates lower to attract more customers in the country with the world’s fourth-largest population and a youthful, Internet-savvy demographic.

Grab, which was co-founded by Makarim’s fellow Harvard graduate Anthony Tan, announced last month that it is teaming up with Indonesian conglomerate Lippo Group to roll out a mobile payment platform in what has become its biggest market.

Grab has raised around $700 million so far from backers including Japan’s SoftBank Corp, sovereign wealth fund China Investment Corp [CIC.UL] and an arm of Singapore state investor Temasek Holdings [TEM.UL].

Grab still has a “significant” amount of capital left, Tan said in Jakarta last month.

While Indonesia is ripe with potential, the sprawling archipelago also comes with regulatory and logistical obstacles.

Earlier this year, taxi drivers’ protests turned violent in the Indonesian capital when they called for ride-hailing apps to be banned. Government ministers had also said that technology firms should be subject to the same regulatory and tax requirements as conventional public transport companies.

Reporting by Eveline Danubrata in Jakarta; Additional reporting by Aradhana Aravindan in Singapore, Kanupriya Kapoor and Cindy Silviana in Jakarta; Editing by Alexandra Hudson and Susan Fenton