Carsome eyes US listing via SPAC – RM8.3b valuation would make used car platform Malaysia's first unicorn – paultan.org

What a meteoric rise it has been for Carsome. Founded in 2015, the Malaysian online used car platform has grown by leaps and bounds, expanded regionally into ASEAN, and is now looking at a US listing.

The deal, if it happens, would make Carsome Malaysia’s first unicorn. Not the mythical creature, but unicorn is what the business world calls startups valued at over US$1 billion (RM4.14 billion). According to people with knowledge of the matter, reported by Bloomberg, Carsome is currently working with advisers and is seeking a valuation of about US$2 billion (RM8.3 billion) in a US listing.

The listing could be via a merger with a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) or a conventional initial public offering (IPO), the sources said. The company could go public as early as the end of 2021, they added.


Heard of SPAC in the news lately? That was probably Grab’s planned US$40 billion (RM165.9 billion) SPAC merger with Altimeter Growth Corp, a blank cheque company set up with the sole purpose of acquiring a business. Announced in April, the regional super app’s SPAC deal is set to complete in Q4 this year, a slight delay due to a review of its financials. For those who are unaware, while Grab was born in Malaysia, it’s now based in Singapore.

The report’s sources say that Carsome is conducting a pre-IPO funding round that aims to raise about US$150 million (RM622 million). It’s not the only used car platform seeking fast growth though – Singapore-based rival Carro recent raised US$360 million (RM1.49 billion) to fund expansion in Thailand and Indonesia, with the ultimate goal of a US listing.

Also not alone is Carsome’s SPAC merger plans. Grab aside, online companies in the region such as Indonesia’s Tiket.com and Singapore’s PropertyGuru are also planning to list in the US through mergers with blank cheque firms.

The used car market is booming not only in Malaysia, but globally as well, and Carsome is riding the wave. The company, which bills itself as Southeast Asia’s largest integrated car e-commerce platform, has of late expanded to Indonesia, Thailand and Singapore.

As of April this year, Carsome reported annualised transactions of 100,000 cars totalling more than US$700 million (RM2.9 billion) in value. Penetration rate of the Southeast Asian used car market is almost 2%. “We are very encouraged by our growth. With greater ambition, we are on track to surpass the US$1 billion (RM4.14 billion) revenue mark by the end of 2021,” co-founder and group CEO Eric Cheng (right in the pic above, with fellow co-founder Teoh Jiun Ee) said then.

It was only in August 2020 that Carsome launched its B2C online platform and flagship store, finally getting into the game of retailing used cars themselves instead of just passing on the cars to used car dealers. Its B2C business has a few unique selling points; among them are a 175-point inspection, one-year warranty and even a five-day money-back guarantee. More on Carsome’s B2C business here.

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