Southeast Asia’s Carousell is considering all growth options including IPO, CEO says

SINGAPORE — Southeast Asia’s online marketplace Carousell will explore all options to grow the business, which includes a likely initial public offering, co-founder and CEO Quek Siu Rui told CNBC on Monday.

Last week, Carousell said it raised $100 million in fresh funds that valued the company at more than a billion dollars, making it a so-called “unicorn.” The new capital will be used to expand across more categories of pre-owned goods as well as markets, and conduct strategic acquisitions to scale up, according to the company.

An initial public offering could potentially be on the cards as well. Media reports this year said the start-up was considering a potential U.S. public listing via a merger with a blank-check company, or a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC). But Quek did not offer any details on Monday.

Carousell co-founders Siu Rui Quek, Marcus Tan and Lucas Ngoo.
Source: Carousell

“In terms of a U.S. listing, in terms of an IPO, with this round of funding, we are actually in a very well-capitalized position for what we need to do, and that really is because of the great support that we have got from our investors,” Quek said on CNBC’s “Squawk Box Asia.”

He explained that a potential IPO could be a way to scale the business alongside other options including raising private capital from strategic investors and partners. “We will evaluate all options in our process of scaling the company,” he said.

“Ultimately we want to make sure that we have a good investor base that will support our long-term growth story, who appreciates our business model and where we’re headed,” Quek added.

Carousell this year hired former Razer executive Edwin Chan as its chief financial officer. Chan oversaw the gaming hardware company’s public listing in Hong Kong in 2017.

A number of high-profile start-ups in Southeast Asia have either announced plans for an IPO or have already listed in the stock market. They include Southeast Asia’s ride-hailing giant Grab, which announced plans for an IPO by merging with a blank-check company, as well as Indonesian e-commerce firm Bukalapak that made its market debut last month.

Last Friday, the Singapore government announced a series of initiatives to attract high-growth companies around the region to list on the Singapore Exchange. That includes a new fund designed to help firms raise capital through public listings, which could potentially be a game-changer for the Singapore stock market.

High-growth start-ups from the region have traditionally chosen to list in the U.S. because of relatively easier access to capital and a wider investor base. Some investors say that local markets do not yet have the capacity to handle mega IPOs, like the one announced by Grab that would value the company at almost $40 billion.

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