Grab will invest $700 mln in Indonesia in race against Uber, Go-Jek

The ride hailing company also said it will hire 150 engineers for its Jakarta research center by 2019.

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Ride-hailing startup GrabTaxi said it will invest $700 million in Indonesia, where it had faced crippling protest from local taxi operators last year.

The Uber rival, which has substantial presence in Southeast Asia, will roll out the funding in the next five years. This will be Grab's biggest investment in any country. In Indonesia Grab's aggressive expansion will make the ride hailing competition more intense, with Uber and local firm Go-Jek also ramping up operations.

Grab said part of the investment will be earmarked for setting up a research center in Jakarta. As much as $100 million will be invested in local financial-technology companies, WSJ reported. Grab, which is backed by Japan's Softbank, said it will develop its payment platform in Indonesia. The ride hailing company also said it will hire 150 engineers for its Jakarta research center by 2019.

Other major investors in Grab include China Investment Corp, Chinese ride-hailing firm Didi Chuxing and Singapore state wealth fund Temasek Holdings.

Grab, which offers taxi and motorcycle-taxi hailing, as well as packages and food-delivery services, raised US$750 million in a funding round last September, according to Reuters. Earlier, Go-Jek had received US$550 million in funding from investors including KKR and Warburg Pincus.

According to a report by Google and Singapore state wealth fund Temasek Holdings, Indonesia's ride-hailing market will be valued at $5.6 billion by 2025, the WSJ said.

Grab has more than 600,000 drivers in 35 cities across Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines. The company is valued at $3 billion as of date.

Last March, Jakarta witnessed huge protests by taxi drivers who brought the capital to a standstill as they blockaded roads demanding tougher regulation of transport apps.