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Thai delivery startup Flash says raises $150 mln, becomes 'unicorn'

BANGKOK, June 1 (Reuters) - Thai logistics startup Flash Group on Tuesday reported its latest round of fundraising had generated $150 million, which it said pushed its overall value beyond the $1 billion mark, reflecting a surge in e-commerce demand.

The new investment comes amid strong growth of online retail in Thailand at a time of prolonged coronavirus outbreaks and social restrictions.

Flash Group chief executive, Komsan Lee, said among the company’s next moves would be to expand elsewhere in Southeast Asia.

Flash, founded in 2017, has not publicly disclosed a breakdown of investments in the company. Asked by Reuters about the valuation, Komsan said: “Exceeded $1 billion, that’s a unicorn”.

Bank of Ayudhya, which is among its investors, confirmed the $1 billion valuation, which would make Flash Thailand’s first unicorn.

Flash has about 7,000 delivery points and 27,000 employees and plans to add another 10,000 workers within two years.

“The market is growing faster than the existing services,” Komsan said.

In a statement, Flash said the latest rounds, which closed on Tuesday, included Siam Commercial Bank’s venture arm, SCB 10X, Chanvanich Security Printing and Buer Capital.

Those included returning investors from a previous round last year, which it said featured Alibaba-backed eWTP Capital , TCP Group, which owns the Red Bull energy drink, PTT Oil and Retail Business Pcl and Bank of Ayudhya unit Krungsri Finnovate, which had raised $200 million.

It did not provide details of earlier rounds.

The capital would help expansion into more communities and the introduction of payments services this year with its investors, Komsan said, adding there were plans to support online merchants with loans.

Flash competes with Kerry Express Thailand, which raised $270 million in an initial public offer last year.

“Expanding into payments might be more difficult for a facilitator, and here partnering might be better,” said Axel Winter, Venture Partner at Bangkok-based Alpha Founders Capital.

“They can improve upon cash-on-delivery, which is still very big in Thailand.” (Reporting by Chayut Setboonsarng; Editing by Martin Petty)

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