Thai food delivery startup Line Man Wongnai seeks new investment, eyes IPO

BANGKOK, June 4 (Reuters) - Thai food delivery startup Line Man Wongnai said on Friday it was seeking investors to help grow the company and expand its domestic reach, after seeing a big jump in transactions due mainly to coronavirus curbs.

“We are in fundraising mode,” chief executive Yod Chinsupakul told Reuters, adding that its current round would be open for “two to three months, maximum”.

In July, Line Man, the food delivery unit of Japanese chat app, Line, merged with Thai restaurant aggregator, Wongnai, and raised $110 million from BRV Capital.

Yod believed the company’s valuation would exceed one billion dollars and that a realistic target for an initial public offering was within two to three years, and capital markets outside of Thailand would also be looked at.

Transactions on the platform grew 5.5 times since last year and the company aimed to cover all 77 Thai provinces by year-end from 55 at present.

Line Man Wongnai competes with tech giants like Grab, Go-Jek and Thai-based food delivery units of Siam Commercial Bank and True Food, owned by telecommunications firm True Corporation.

Line Man Wongnai’s advantage over rivals comes from access to 49 million users on Line’s messaging app and 600,000 restaurant in its database, which lowered customer acquisition costs and made it faster to add new restaurants, Yod said.

However, after launching its own fleet, the company has had issues with its riders.

On Friday, scores protested outside its Bangkok office demanding better working conditions, like insurance, better commission, and free calls via the application.

The app has about 60,000 riders.

“They say they’ve taken up our request, but nothing happens,” said Line Man driver Adisorn Sinboonthu who travelled about 80 km (49.71 miles) from his home and said he makes around 200 baht ($6.40) a day after phone and gas expenses.

Earlier this week the company said it would consider riders’ requests after a similar protest. Line Man Wongnai did not immediately respond to a Reuters request on driver demands.

$1 = 31.2300 baht Reporting by Chayut Setboonsarng; Editing by Martin Petty