(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.
(Bloomberg) -- Elon Musk helped legitimize cryptocurrencies in the eyes of Wall Street investors. Now, his tweets are scaring them off.About a quarter of Bitcoin’s value has been wiped away in the span of a week, in part thanks to headspinning tweets from Musk on everything from Bitcoin’s toll on the environment to whether Dogecoin is the better digital currency. The token is now worth about as much as it was when Tesla first disclosed in February its intention to buy some.Musk has always been tongue in cheek with his crypto dabbling, but his latest posts have sown confusion across the industry and revived the debate over whether the nascent asset class is a serious investment.Can Bitcoin ever be a hedge against inflation and gold alternative with volatility like this? And is it simply a running joke on Twitter for the world’s second-richest man?These questions are resonating with GAM Holding AG, which oversees 124.5 billion Swiss francs ($138 billion), as unpredictable swings in crypto are proving a major drawback.“Its volatility is so huge that it can actually distract clients from their investment goals,” said Julian Howard, head of multi-asset solutions at the firm. “It’s often driven by tweets rather than fundamentals.”Before this month’s roller-coaster, the widespread adoption of crypto had been on an upswing, with Tesla’s $1.5 billion purchase of Bitcoin in February a watershed moment. At the time, Musk announced he would allow customers to buy cars with Bitcoin and would keep a portion of Tesla’s balance sheet in the token.The move, the first by a major corporation, raised expectations that other corporate treasurers would follow suit and adoption of crypto as a medium of exchange would take hold. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Morgan Stanley also announced plans to offer their clients exposure to crypto.With hordes of new retail and institutional investors piling in, prices shot up from $29,000 in January and reached $60,000 last month. After the pullback, the token now trades around $43,000 and some analysts say the market still looks precarious, especially as the fate of Bitcoin becomes tied to Musk’s Twitter outbursts.“I would definitely expect reduced appetite going forward,” said Felix Dian, founder of crypto-focused MVPQ Capital in London, which counts 70% of its investors as institutions. “First, because of the loss of momentum from a technical perspective, but also because of the extreme sensitivity on environmental issues.”Because Bitcoin has no underlying fundamentals, such as profit streams or interest payments that help anchor the value of stocks and bonds, it’s inherently a speculative bet on market trends in the years ahead.“It’s the ultimate momentum trade,” said Wayne Wicker, chief investment officer at Vantagepoint Investment Advisers. “The mainstream adoption will come from institutional investors over time and regardless of Elon Musk.”Still, for all the eye-watering moves lately, Bitcoin is far less volatile than it used to be. Benson Durham of Cornerstone Macro LLC says Bitcoin’s correlation to other assets, therefore its impact on overall portfolio swings, is a more relevant metric for investors.By that measure, there’s “not much change to write home about during the recent pullback,“ he wrote.Meanwhile, crypto insiders say the Musk-driven volatility is just a temporary blip and will soon blow over.“We take a longer view, and investors would be right to do the same,“ said Greg King, chief executive officer of Osprey Funds, which offers crypto trust funds. “The key question is whether we think this asset is going to last? The answer is yes.”More stories like this are available on bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2021 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- It’s a Wall Street nightmare. You score hundreds of millions of dollars on a trade and you just can’t get paid.That’s what Goldman Sachs Group Inc. faces in a transaction pitting its traders against Mexico’s dominant power company, championed by none other than President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, according to people with knowledge of the matter. At issue: roughly $400 million the Wall Street bank believes it’s owed from a natural-gas trade that went wild when a deep freeze hit Texas in February.In private discussions with Goldman Sachs, state-owned utility Comision Federal de Electricidad has blamed rogue traders, ejected staff and even hinted that the side lacking financial sophistication in the trade was, perhaps, the Wall Street bank, the people said.If the impasse continues to escalate, it risks dragging the bank into a political blowup.The freakishly cold storm that battered the central U.S. set off sweeping blackouts as ice formed on wind turbines and some pipelines froze, forcing oil and gas wells to shut. As power suppliers and traders struggled to track down fuel to meet obligations, prices skyrocketed. The surge benefited companies that happened to be on the right side of trades, but their ability to collect depends on what happens to gas suppliers, power generators and utility customers, some of whom have filed price-gouging lawsuits.The cost of paying Goldman Sachs could ultimately come from Mexican households, many of whom were left without power in the winter -- not so much because of local malfunctions but because authorities in Texas cut off fuel exports when their own lightly regulated system failed. It’s little surprise then that officials south of the border are reluctant to write a check to a giant U.S. bank.Yet anybody who bails on such a bet risks becoming persona non grata on Wall Street, complicating their future access. On the other side, Goldman’s leaders have to consider how angry they want to make the government of Mexico, a market where the firm has been expanding.The descriptions of the dispute and the underlying transaction between Goldman and a CFE subsidiary were provided by people with knowledge of the matter, who asked not to be identified publicly discussing the talks. A representative for Goldman Sachs didn’t comment for this story.The bank and CFE are heading into arbitration over the matter, a spokeswoman for the utility told a Whatsapp chat room with journalists on Monday, noting “the CFE considers that it has solid and sufficient arguments.”On the face of it, it was a routine natural-gas contract. Goldman had entered into the arrangement with CFE International, an arm of CFE. The investment bank’s obligations were tied to a monthly index of gas prices, while the CFE unit would be exposed to daily rates at certain hubs, such as the Waha hub in West Texas.The daily price there surged by nearly 100 times, whereas the monthly price was left largely unchanged, leaving the CFE subsidiary on the hook for an unusually large amount. But instead of the contract getting settled in the Wall Street firm’s favor, the situation has devolved into an acrimonious spat.The Mexican utility has argued that the traders who initiated the deal at its subsidiary weren’t authorized to do so, and some of them have since left, the people said. CFE has also argued it shouldn’t have to fulfill the contract because of the unforeseeable, extreme price action. And it has asserted that Goldman failed to strike a rock-solid contract because it didn’t get an explicit nod from the parent company as a guarantor on the trade, undermining the bank’s ability to extract the money.For Goldman, the dispute boils down to a contractual obligation that its counterparty is duty-bound to fulfill, even if the debt resulted from unforeseen disaster. The bank has also privately argued that such a trade was routinely carried out between the two sides and that the subsidiary even represented in documentation that it had a guarantee from the parent company, a person close to Goldman said. Chat logs during the deal indicate that CFE’s subsidiary was seeking approvals on various aspects of the trade from its parent, the person said.It’s unclear how and when Goldman will be able to realize the money it insists it’s owed, especially as CFE becomes a central part of the Mexican president’s campaign to reshape the domestic energy market.Read More: Mexico Blames U.S. as Energy Crisis Spills Across the BorderSince winning in a landslide in 2018, Lopez Obrador has sought to roll back energy reforms by his predecessor and has said he wants to turn CFE back into an economic champion. He’s broadly blamed private companies for fleecing the nation in deals hatched with corrupt officials, and he’s taken particular issue with gas contracts that he says unfairly benefited businesses at the expense of the state utility.“We are going to continue to comply with the commitment not to increase the price of electricity, even with speculation and the increases in gas prices that are taking place in Texas and the United States,” he said during his morning press conference on Feb. 18.(Updates with comment from CFE spokeswoman in ninth paragraph.)More stories like this are available on bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2021 Bloomberg L.P.