AirAsia is revving up the expansion of its super-app footprint in Southeast Asia with the acquisition of Indonesian ride-hailing and payments firm Gojek’s business in Thailand.
The purchase is made through the company’s digital arm AirAsia Digital in an all-share deal that will see Gojek receive shareholding worth US$50 million in the AirAsia super app, the airline’s lifestyle platform, which is valued at around US$1 billion.
AirAsia Group chief executive officer Tony Fernandes described the partnership as a “win-win“ deal.
“By taking on Gojek’s well-established Thai business we’ll be able to turbocharge our ambitions in this space to become a leading ASEAN challenger super app.”
Fernandes added the group already has a completely digital economy ecosystem, including more than 15 different non-airline products and lifestyle services on its digital e-commerce platform in Malaysia.
“Now it’s time to take it to the next level.”
As part of its commitment to Thailand, the AirAsia super app aims to continue to leverage the existing ecosystem services for riders, merchants, and customers while adding new offerings such as groceries and beauty items.
It will also expand into new markets such as Chiang Mai and Phuket in the near future.
The Gojek app will continue to operate for existing users in Bangkok until July 31 to ensure stability for Gojek drivers and merchants who will be invited to onboard the AirAsia super app expected to launch in August.
According to Fernandes, there would not be any redundancies from the transition.
“AirAsia will work with the existing Gojek team in Thailand who will operate the Gojek business during the transition period before moving over to the AirAsia Super App, bringing local market expertise and a deep understanding of Thai user needs to the business.”
The deal with AirAsia Group also allows the Indonesian unicorn to increase its investment in its Vietnam and Singapore operations, including driver and merchant acquisition initiatives, as well as launching new products and services.
The new partnership with AirAsia is part of Gojek’s realigned international strategy.
On May 17, it announced a US$18 billion merger with e-commerce leader Tokopedia to create GoTo Group.
The group aims to go public with a market valuation estimated at between US$30 and US$40 billion in Jakarta and the US.
Gojek CEO Kevin Aluwi said the deal with AirAsia Group is “a testament to the accomplishments” and achievements of the team in Thailand.
“AirAsia Digital and the AirAsia Super App will become a highly valued partner for us as we share the same goal to provide users with better services, while enhancing the livelihoods of drivers and merchants.
“At the same time, the deal will enable us to pivot our focus in international markets towards Vietnam and Singapore, markets providing us with the best return on investment and strategic growth opportunities.”
Both AirAsia and Gojek did not rule out the possibility of working together in other businesses in Southeast Asia, with Fernandes saying, “this is the start of a tremendous long term strategic partnership with Gojek, which is sure to rock the industry.”
Airasia Digital (previously known as RedBeat Ventures) is the digital venture arm of AirAsia Group. It comprises three key focus businesses: AirAsia super app, tech-enabled regional cross-border logistics service provider Teleport, and fintech company BigPay.