Tokopedia and Gojek, two of Indonesia’s most valuable tech firms, have reportedly signed a “conditional sales and purchase agreement”, paving the way for the two companies to merge into a $40bn powerhouse.
The deal would combine Tokopedia’s ecommerce business with Gojek’s ride-hailing and payments operations, creating a so-called super-app in the process.
Such all-in-one apps offer multiple services in one place, from hailing a taxi to ordering takeaway and sending messages.
If the deal goes through it would create another super-app in South East Asia. Chinese app WeChat is the largest of its kind in the world, offering more than a million services to over a billion users. Ant Group’s Alipay is the number two super-app, also based in China and boasting more than a billion users.
With Gojek valued at $10.5bn and Tokopedia valued at $7.5bn, the deal would be the largest M&A in Indonesia’s tech sector. Last month Bloomberg reported the target valuation of the merged company is between $35bn and $40bn, which would make it the third-largest company by market value on the Indonesia Stock Exchange.
According to market intelligence site D-Insights, which first reported that the two companies have signed an agreement, the terms would see Gojek shareholders take a 60% stake in the merged company and Tokopedia owning the remaining 40%.
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However, Nuraini Razak, Tokopedia’s vice president of corporate communications, has dismissed reports that the two companies have reached an agreement.
She told media outlets that “the news is inaccurate and purely speculative. If there is any corporate action, we will inform the media accordingly”.
A super deal for Tokopedia and Gojek?
A potential merger would have clear benefits for the two Indonesian tech unicorns. Tokopedia is the second-largest online shopping site in Indonesia but trails behind rival ecommerce company Sea, valued at $100bn.
Gojek has been downloaded more than 125 million times – nearly half the population of Indonesia. It has more than 300,000 merchants on its platform. Combined, the two companies could expand their reach among consumers in the fast-growing Indonesian economy, while also keeping them within their own ‘walled garden’ for longer.
It also falls under the previously stated goals of Gojek’s co-chief executive Kevin Aluwi, who told the BBC last month that the South-East Asia region is a natural home for super-apps.
Indeed, in its own marketing material, Gojek already refers to itself as a super-app, describing itself as an “operating system that unbundles the tyranny of apps”.
A merger makes sense given the two companies share overlapping investors, including Google, Sequoia Capital India and Temasek Holdings.
For tech companies in general the appeal of super-apps is the ability to keep consumers within their ecosystems for longer periods of time. More eyeballs mean greater advertising revenues and higher commission payments from all of the microservices offered under its umbrella.
It also means further consolidation of consumer data among a shrinking number of tech companies, which raises privacy concerns as well as raising the barriers for entry to smaller rivals.
The M&A rumours follow reports that Tokopedia had previously considered going public via a special purpose acquisition company backed by technology investor Peter Thiel. The companies have also explored a dual listing in Jakarta and New York, according to Reuters. Gojek also considered a merger with Singapore-based rival Grab, but it is understood this option was scrapped.
News site DealStreetAsia reported last month that Gojek has appointed Goldman Sachs to advise on its Tokopedia merger negotiations.