Tokopedia, one of south-east Asia’s biggest start-ups, has said it plans to go public in a test of Indonesia’s ability to produce tech champions.
The online shopping app, which raised money at a $7.5bn valuation in November from Google and Singaporean state fund Temasek, said it had approached Citi and Morgan Stanley to begin work on a public listing.
It also confirmed that it had been approached by Bridgetown Holdings, a special purpose acquisition company (Spac) backed by the Hong Kong businessman Richard Li and the Silicon Valley investor Peter Thiel.
“We are considering [accelerating] our plan to go public and we have appointed Morgan Stanley and Citi to be our advisers. We have not decided yet which market and method, and still considering options,” Tokopedia said.
“Spac is a potential option that we could consider but we have not committed to anything at the moment,” it added.
Tokopedia, which was founded in Indonesia in 2009, has 100m monthly active users and is backed by Alibaba and SoftBank. But it faces fierce competition from rivals Lazada and Shopee.
The company had planned an IPO for this year but put its plans on hold as the pandemic struck.
One shareholder said Bridgetown’s interest, first reported by Bloomberg, is just one of Tokopedia’s options. A banker involved in the process suggested that “a traditional IPO is still the preference”.
Very few of south-east Asia’s tech companies have gone public, with the exception of Tencent-backed Sea Group, which operates Shopee.
“The Spac route could make for a smoother and shorter ride for Tokopedia, and if proven to be successful, could pave a new road for more tech giants in south-east Asia to consider to exit,” said Yinglan Tan, managing partner of south-east Asian venture capital firm Insignia Ventures Partners.
Bridgetown did not immediately respond to a request for comment.