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Grab’s $40 bln Nasdaq debut to set tone for Southeast Asian tech listings

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Grab, Southeast Asia’s biggest ride-hailing and delivery firm, makes its market debut on Thursday after a record $40 billion merger with a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC), in a listing that will set the tone for other regional offerings.

The backdoor listing on Nasdaq marks the high point for the nine-year-old Singapore company that began as a ride-hailing app and now operates across 465 cities in eight countries, offering food deliveries, payments, insurance and investment products.

The biggest U.S. listing by a Southeast Asian company follows Grab’s April agreement to merge with U.S. tech investor Altimeter Capital Management’s SPAC, Altimeter Growth Corp and raise $4.5 billion, including $750 million from Altimeter.

There is scope for many players in the fragmented food delivery and financial services markets in Southeast Asia, a region of 650 million people, but the road to profitability could be a long one, analysts say.

Grab’s flotation “will provide a bigger cash buffer” to its “cash burn”, S&P Global Ratings said in a note. But the company’s “credit quality continues to be constrained by its loss-making operations, and free operating cash flows could be negative over the next 12 months.”

Southeast Asia’s internet economy is forecast to double to $360 billion in gross merchandise value by 2025, prompting Grab’s rivals, including regional internet firm Sea Ltd and Indonesia’s GoTo Group, to bulk up.

GoTo plans a local IPO in 2022 after completing an expected $2 billion private fundraising, sources have told Reuters. A U.S. listing will follow the Jakarta offering.

“Longer term, we’re really excited about Grab Financial Group,” a unit of the company, said Chris Conforti, partner at Altimeter Capital. “I think the bell curve on that is much wider in terms of what the outcome could be, but it could be extremely large.”

Bonanza for backers

Grab was founded by Anthony Tan, its chief executive, and Tan Hooi Ling, who developed the firm from an idea for a Harvard Business School venture competition in 2011. The two Tans are not related.

CEO Tan, 39, expanded Grab into a regional operation with a range of services, after launching it as a taxi app in Malaysia in 2012. It later moved its headquarters to Singapore.

“What we have shown to the world is that home grown tech companies can develop great technology that can compete globally, even when international players are in town,” Tan told Reuters in an interview on Wednesday. “We can compete and win.”

He will end up with 60.4% voting rights along with Grab’s co-founder, and president Ming Maa, but control only 3.3% stake with them.

To mark the New York listing, Grab and Nasdaq will hold a bell-ringing in a luxury hotel in Singapore in the middle of the Asian night. About 250 people, including executives from the exchange, Grab’s investors and other partners are to attend.

Grab’s listing brings a payday bonanza to early backers such as Japan’s SoftBank and Chinese ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing, which invested as early as 2014.

They were later joined by the likes of Toyota Motor Corp, Microsoft Corp and Japanese megabank MUFG. Uber became a Grab shareholder in 2018 after selling its Southeast Asian business to Grab following a five-year battle.

In September, Grab cut its full-year adjusted net sales forecasts, citing renewed uncertainty over pandemic curbs on movement.

Third-quarter revenue fell 9% from a year earlier and its adjusted loss before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortisation (EBITDA) widened 66% to $212 million. GMV in the quarter rose to a record $4 billion.

It aims to turn profitable on an EBITDA basis in 2023.

JPMorgan and Morgan Stanley were the lead placement agents on the fundraising, while Evercore and UBS were the co-placement agents.

Source: https://tuoitrenews.vn/news/international/20211202/grab-s-40-bln-nasdaq-debut-to-set-tone-for-southeast-asian-tech-listings/64502.html

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Shanghai to reopen all schools Sept. 1 as lockdown fears persist

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China’s financial hub Shanghai said on Sunday it would reopen all schools including kindergartens, primary and middle schools on Sept. 1 after months of COVID-19 closures.

The city will require all teachers and students to take nucleic acid tests for the coronavirus every day before leaving campus, the Shanghai Municipal Education Commission said.

It also called for teachers and students to carry out a 14-day “self health management” within the city ahead of the school reopening, the commission said in a statement.

Shanghai shut all schools in mid-March before the city’s two-month lockdown to combat its worst COVID outbreak in April and May.

It allowed some students of high school and middle school to return to classrooms in June while most of the rest continued home study for the remainder of the semester.

The announcement on schools reopening brings great relief to many residents but fears about COVID lockdowns continue to persist, as China vows to stick to its dynamic zero policy which requires all positive cases and their close contacts to undergo quarantine.

On Saturday, videos circulating on Chinese social media showed customers pushing past security guards and running out of an IKEA mall in central Shanghai in panic as an announcement blared over its sound system saying the mall was being locked down due to COVID contact tracing.

Reuters was not able to independently verify the authenticity of the videos but IKEA customer service said on Sunday the mall was shut due to COVID curbs. IKEA did not immediately respond to a request for further comment.

Shanghai, the most populous in China, reported five new local infections of COVID, all asymptomatic, for Saturday, while 2,467 domestically transmitted cases were reported nationwide.

It has extended its weekly COVID-19 test requirement and extended free testing until the end of September in a bid to keep the virus in check, authorities announced on Saturday. 

The southern province of Hainan is now China’s worst hit region, with 494 symptomatic cases and 846 asymptomatic cases reported for Saturday.

Chinese Vice Premier Sun Chunlan urged Hainan to achieve zero cases at the community level as soon as possible when she inspected several places on the island, including the Sanya Phoenix International Airport on Saturday, state media reported.

Source: https://tuoitrenews.vn/news/international/20220814/shanghai-to-reopen-all-schools-sept-1-as-lockdown-fears-persist/68585.html

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Tropical depression Mulan triggers flash floods at Thai-Myanmar border towns

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Heavy rains from Tropical depression Mulan caused flash floods on Saturday, with towns at the Thai-Myanmar border submerged after rising water levels breached an earthen dam in Myanmar’s Shan State, local media reported.

The flood water, which had mostly receded on Sunday, inundated more than 2,000 households in Mae Sai township in Thailand’s northern Chiang Rai province as well as Myanmar’s Tachilek border town, local media Thai PBS reported.

A Thai official said an earthen dam located 37 kilometers north of the border was breached since Friday causing waters of the Sai river to rise rapidly and triggering the flood.

“The dike along the river that used to keep water levels under control were breached and water overflowed into the streets and people’s homes,” Narongphol Kid-arn, the mayor of Mae Sai, said.

“In some parts, the water was at waist and chest levels,” he said.

Thai PBS footage show relief personnel wading through flooded streets to distribute food to people stranded in their homes in Mae Sai. There were no reports of casualties.

Separately, Thailand’s National Water Command Centre on Saturday issued a warning that heavy rain in Laos could cause water levels in the Mekong River to rise by up to two meters between Aug. 14 – 18.

Source: https://tuoitrenews.vn/news/international/20220814/tropical-depression-mulan-triggers-flash-floods-at-thaimyanmar-border-towns/68584.html

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Drought in England, fires rage in France as heatwave persists

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SAINT-MAGNE, France — Firefighters from across Europe came to France’s rescue on Friday to battle a massive wildfire, while fire also raged in Portugal and parts of England faced a severe drought, as successive heatwaves renewed the focus on climate change risks.

Much of Europe has faced weeks of baking temperatures that have also depleted water levels of the Rhine River in Germany and seen the source of Britain’s River Thames dry up further downstream than in previous years.

High temperatures and a worsening drought brought a high risk of new fires breaking out in Gironde, in southwestern France, local officials said, even after an overnight reprieve held in check the wildfire that has been burning for days, scorched thousands of hectares and displaced 10,000 people.

Firefighters from Germany, Romania, Greece and beyond were on the ground to help France battle the fire in the region – home to Bordeaux wine – as well as on other fronts, including in Brittany in the northwest.

A fawn tries to escape the fire in Belin-Beliet as wildfires continue to spread in the Gironde region of southwestern France, August 12, 2022. Photo: Reuters
A fawn tries to escape the fire in Belin-Beliet as wildfires continue to spread in the Gironde region of southwestern France, August 12, 2022. Photo: Reuters

“It doesn’t matter the country, we are firefighters and we are there to help,” said chief Romanian firefighter Cristian Buhaianu, in Gironde.

French commandant Stephanie Martin welcomed their support in an area that already battled a massive fire for weeks last month. “Our firefighters are tired after one month of fighting. It is really good support for us, so we can also focus on the other operation,” she said.

But while an expected end of France’s third heatwave on Sunday could bring some relief, the fire has already left much destruction in its wake, including over 7,400 hectares (18,286 acres) of forest burnt to the ground – equivalent to the size of a major French city such as Nice.

An aerial view shows a wildfire burning, near Hostens, as wildfires continue to spread in the Gironde region of southwestern France, in this handout photograph released on August 12, 2022. Courtesy SDIS 33/Handout via Reuters
An aerial view shows a wildfire burning, near Hostens, as wildfires continue to spread in the Gironde region of southwestern France, in this handout photograph released on August 12, 2022. Courtesy SDIS 33/Handout via Reuters

What firefighters called a “monster fire” also destroyed houses, including the ancestral home of the family of 19-year old student Juliette Pilain, from Belin-Beliet, in the heart of Gironde.

“It is complicated to process this news. It’s a house that’s been in the family for years, it’s especially painful for my grandparents,” Pilain told Reuters.

“We had all the furniture of my great-grandparents there, books and encyclopaedia belonging to my great grandmother … we cried a lot but then thought it is just material damage and we are all still here.”

Portugal fires, UK drought

In central Portugal, a huge wildfire raged into its seventh day, with 1,600 firefighters backed by 13 waterbombing aircraft, including one sent from Spain, combating the blaze that has destroyed about 15% of the Serra da Estrela national park.

After starting in the Covilha area on Saturday, the fire has spread to several neighbouring councils, burning around 15,000 hectares overall.

Meanwhile, water levels on the river Rhine in Germany have fallen again, with some vessels no longer able to sail, shipping operators and brokers said. 

Further north, in Britain, the heatwave was also hitting hard, with the government formally declaring parts of southern, central and eastern England in drought after a prolonged period of hot and dry weather.

A firefighting aircraft drops flame retardant to extinguish a wildfire near Hostens, as wildfires continue to spread in the Gironde region of southwestern France, in this handout photograph released on August 12, 2022. Courtesy SDIS 33/Handout via Reuters
A firefighting aircraft drops flame retardant to extinguish a wildfire near Hostens, as wildfires continue to spread in the Gironde region of southwestern France, in this handout photograph released on August 12, 2022. Courtesy SDIS 33/Handout via Reuters

England suffered its driest July since 1935, with only 35% of the average rainfall for the month, and parts of England and Wales were now in the middle of a four-day “extreme heat” alert. 

“All water companies have reassured us that essential supplies are still safe, and we have made it clear it is their duty to maintain those supplies,” Water Minister Steve Double said, following a meeting of the National Drought Group.

The companies will now begin enacting pre-agreed drought plans to help protect supplies, and the government said members of the public and businesses in drought-affected areas were urged to use water wisely.

Earlier on Friday, Yorkshire water announced a hosepipe ban would begin on Aug. 26, forbidding customers from using hoses to water gardens, wash cars or fill up paddling pools.

Across France as well, there are restrictions on water use, and water police has been handing out fines. Local media have reported that outdoor jacuzzis were vandalised in the tourist Vosges area, as some tensions over water rose.

Source: https://tuoitrenews.vn/news/international/20220813/drought-in-england-fires-rage-in-france-as-heatwave-persists/68574.html

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