Charlotte Street Partners



Time to grab Grab?

Written by Li-Ann Chin, associate 
Edited by Tom Gillingham, associate partner
14 April 2021

Good morning,

Founded in 2012, Grab, a Singaporean ride-hailing app, was initially conceived by founder Anthony Tan, as a solution to Southeast Asia’s disorganised and corrupt transportation sector.
It has since then expanded into food and grocery delivery and digital payment services across eight countries in Southeast Asia. Grab yesterday unveiled a listing in New York via Altimeter Capital’s ‘blank-cheque’ vehicle – otherwise known as a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) –  in a deal that will value the business at nearly $40bn, one of the largest of its kind globally.
Touted as a faster and more efficient way for a company to go public, the allure of a SPAC to an ambitious start-up is obvious. Listing by way of a SPAC cuts the typical duration it takes to list from around 12 months to mere weeks, allowing companies to focus instead on growth and expansion plans. Inversely, however, this suggests that Grab will need to start functioning – and communicating – as a public company in roughly three to five months’ time. The transition will not be easy; investors and public markets can be more fickle than those in private markets. For a company that remains loss-making, some are already questioning the valuation that Grab is seeking.
Announcements like this don’t come by often in Southeast Asia. Ten years ago, it would have been practically unheard of. Indeed, the region didn’t have a single major tech company listed until Sea Group went public in 2017. Grab will very much be a trailblazer for Southeast Asia’s long-overlooked e-commerce scene, offering investors exposure to one of the world’s “fastest growing economies in a fragmented and competitive market with divergent politics, currencies, regulators and consumer spending power.” More capital is already predicted to flow into the region on the back of Grab’s deal.
Southeast Asia is notorious for the way business and politics have always been inextricably linked. Successfully navigating that is no small feat. Those closest to him describe Tan as a tenacious, driven entrepreneur, with inexhaustible reserves of determination. That’s good. Something tells me he’s going to need those skills.


People aged 45 of over in England will now be invited to get a Covid-19 vaccine, health secretary Matt Hancock has confirmed. First minister Nicola Sturgeon has similarly stated that the next phase in Scotland’s vaccination programme for over-45 year olds will get underway this week. In contrast to England, however, there are no plans in Scotland for an online booking system to be implemented. Appointments will be allocated instead.
Andy Haldane, chief economist of the Bank of England, has announced plans to step down after 32 years to become chief executive of the Royal Society for Arts thinktank. He is expected to depart from the bank’s monetary policy committee in June.
The US, South Africa and European Union will temporarily stop the rollout of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, after reports of blood clotting. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has confirmed that six cases were detected in more than 6.8 million doses of the vaccine. All six cases were in women aged between 18 and 48, with symptoms appearing in less than 13 days of the jab.

Business and economy

President Joe Biden will withdraw all remaining US troops from Afghanistan by September 11, on the 20th anniversary of the al-Qaida coordinated attacks on New York and Washington. A small number will remain in the country beyond that date, but in the capacity of protecting the US embassy. He is expected to make a formal announcement today.
Labour has called for the government to conduct a more thorough inquiry into David Cameron’s efforts to lobby ministers on behalf of Greensill Capital. Shadow chancellor Anneliese Dodds also criticised chancellor Rishi Sunak for sidestepping questions in parliament yesterday over his contact with the financial services company.
The Office of the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments has revealed that Bill Crothers, a top civil servant, joined Greensill Capital as an adviser while still working as chief commercial officer for the government in 2015. The Cabinet Office is understood to have previously approved this move. Crothers has denied any wrongdoing, claiming that taking on ‘outside roles’ is not uncommon.

Columns of note

n the aftermath of WWI and a global pandemic, the 1920s was a decade in which the US economy grew by 42%, as Americans spent, drank and partied their way through what became known as the Roaring Twenties. Now that there is light at the end of the (Covid-19) tunnel, Megan Greene cautions in the Financial Times against thinking that history will repeat itself. Let’s not forget that the Roaring Twenties were followed by the Depression, she writes.
In a bizarre turn of events, now that hospitality venues across England are opening up once more, albeit with limited seating, those who stand to benefit the most are the highly organised go-getters, the “advance bookers”. Everywhere has already been booked and getting an unplanned pint at a pub seems more unlikely than taking a trip to Spain. Best to book yourself in for a reservation in July. Writing in The Guardian, James Greig laments the death of spontaneity.

Cartoon source: The Telegraph


What happened yesterday?

Equities in London rallied on Tuesday, as investors evaluated a slightly lower-than-expected UK GDP figures and the latest US inflation data.

The FTSE 100 was 0.02% firmer at 6890.49, while the FTSE 250 ended the session up 0.52% at 22,268.46.

In currency markets, sterling had a mixed day, ending 0.01% up against the dollar at $1.37, but falling 0.25% on the euro to hit €1.15.

Across the Atlantic, stocks on Wall Street were a mixed bag after the FDA recommended the use of Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 vaccine be temporarily halted as a result of rare blood clots. The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended 68.13 points lower at 33,677.27 while the S&P500 saw out the session 0.33% stronger at 4,141.59. Nasdaq Composite, on the other hand, concluded the session up by 1.05% at 13,996.10.

In company news

Luxury goods multinational LMVH delivered forecast-beating first-quarter sales, surpassing the level of 2019 as the industry rebounded on the backs of Chinese and US consumers.

Coinbase is set to list on the Nasdaq exchange today and will become the first major cryptocurrency company to go public in the US.

Easyjet has said it expects passenger numbers to increase from late May onwards, hitting 20% of 2019 levels in the third quarter, after lockdown measures resulted in a significant loss for the first half of 2021.

What’s happening today?


Destiny Pharma., Tesco, The Mission Group

Trading Announcements

Audioboom Grp., Robert Walters


Smith & Nephew

Int. economic announcements

(10:00) Industrial Production (EU), (12:00) MBA Mortgage Applications (US), (13:30) Import and Export Price Indices (US), (15:30) Crude Oil Inventories (US)

Source: Financial Times

did you know

As many as 40 million people in Southeast Asia — Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Thailand — came online for the first time in 2020, bringing the total number of internet users in the region to 400 million. (Source: CNBC)

Parliamentary highlights

House of Commons

Oral questions


Prime Minister’s Question Time

Ten Minute Rule Motion

Opposition Day Debate


Funding for the restoration of Hammersmith Bridge

House of Lords 

Oral questions


Scottish Parliament 

The Scottish parliament is in recess ahead of the election on 6 May

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