(Bloomberg) -- Indonesian online travel company Tiket.com is exploring going public through a merger with a special purpose acquisition company as it seeks to expand its business, according to people with knowledge of the matter.The startup is in talks with COVA Acquisition Corp. for a deal that would value the combined entity at about $2 billion, according to the people, who asked not to be identified because the talks are private. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. is advising Jakarta-based Tiket, which is valued at more than $1 billion and owned by diversified Indonesian conglomerate Djarum Group, they said.The startup may also pursue a traditional initial public offering, a merger or an acquisition to expand, the people said. Negotiations between the two firms aren’t finalized and it’s possible discussions may not result in a deal, they said.Tiket joins a slew of Southeast Asian internet companies considering SPAC listings or initial public offerings to fuel growth as online commerce gains popularity in the region. Indonesian rival Traveloka is in advanced talks to go public through merging with Bridgetown Holdings Ltd., a blank-check firm backed by billionaire Richard Li and Peter Thiel.As part of the deal, Tiket could raise about $200 million in a so-called private investment in public equity, or PIPE, that often accompanies a SPAC merger, the people said. Representatives of Tiket, Goldman and COVA Acquisition declined to comment.Tiket.com was founded in 2011, a year before Traveloka. Djarum acquired Tiket in 2017 and put it under the leadership of Chief Executive Officer George Hendrata, previously Djarum’s director of business development and diversification. Tiket’s platform lets consumers buy tickets for flights, trains as well as concerts and other events. Users can also book hotel and rental cars in Indonesia. It has a network of more than 90 airlines, 2.8 million hotels and other lodgings, and more than 400 corporate partners.Tiket’s sales of plane tickets and hotel bookings surged more than 300% in the first three months of 2021 compared with the second quarter of 2020, when business was hurt by the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, according to the company’s press release in April.Djarum is led by Michael Bambang Hartono and his younger brother Robert Budi Hartono, who inherited a clove cigarette manufacturing business from their father Oei Wie Gwan upon his death in 1963. They grew the business into a diversified conglomerate including PT Bank Central Asia, whose market capitalization of about $55 billion makes it Indonesia’s most valuable company. Budi Hartono is the richest Indonesian with a net worth of $16 billion, while Michael has a net worth of $15 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.Luminar Backer’s $300 Million SPAC Seeks Southeast Asia TargetCOVA Acquisition is led by Jun Hong Heng, the founder of San Francisco-based Crescent Cove Advisors LP, which backs high-growth technology, media and telecommunications ventures in the U.S. and Southeast Asia. Crescent Cove was one of the earliest and largest investors in Luminar, a driverless-car startup founded by entrepreneur Austin Russell.More stories like this are available on bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2021 Bloomberg L.P.
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