Uber sells SE Asia business to rival Grab

Published March 26, 2018, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By AFP and Alexandria San Juan 

Uber sold its Southeast Asian busi­ness to rival Grab on Monday, ending a bruising battle between the ride-hailing behemoths and marking the US firm’s latest retreat from international markets.

Singapore-based Grab is taking over the ride-sharing and food delivery operations of Uber in the region, with the California-headquartered company to receive a 27.5 percent stake in the business in return.

A ComfortDelgro taxi passes Uber and Grab offices in Singapore March 26, 2018. (REUTERS/Edgar Su / MANILA BULLETIN)
A ComfortDelgro taxi passes Uber and Grab offices in Singapore March 26, 2018. (REUTERS/Edgar Su / MANILA BULLETIN)



Grab Philippines (GrabPH) country head Brian Cu, in a statement on Monday, said the two biggest ride-hailing firm in the country have “come together” to serve the Filipinos better, adding that this was an important milestone in the ridesharing industry.

“The combined service of Grab and Uber signals a wider network of TNVS (transport network vehicle service) drivers and passengers and improved ridesharing services,” Cu stated.

With the sale, Cu said that there will be a larger fleet of drivers on their platform which means that pas­senger transportation needs will be met faster.

“Passengers will get to enjoy shorter waiting time, more conve­nient and affordable rides through one platform,” he added.

More jobs, less waiting time, and an “ultimately higher earning poten­tial” are expected to be felt by Grab’s partner-drivers as more passengers are expected to use their platform, Cu said.

The sale is Uber’s latest with­drawal from a market where it had faced tough competition, as new chief executive DaraKhosrowshahi seeks to stem huge losses and move past a series of scandals.

After a fierce battle, Uber sold its China operations to rival DidiChuxing in 2016 in return for a stake, and last year the US firm merged in Russia with the taxi-hailing app of internet giant Yandex.

The deal with Grab – which oper­ates in eight Southeast Asian coun­tries, including the Philippines– is similar to the one struck with Didi, and ends a fight for market share in a region that is home to some 650 million people and an increasingly affluent middle class.

“Today’s acquisition marks the be­ginning of a new era,” said Grab chief executive Anthony Tan. “The combined business is the leader in platform and cost efficiency in the region.”

Khosrowshahi, who is joining Grab’s board as part of the agree­ment, said: “This deal is a testament to Uber’s exceptional growth across Southeast Asia over the last five years. It will help us double down on our plans for growth.”

The value of the deal, which Grab said was the largest ever acquisition by a Southeast Asian Internet com­pany, was not disclosed.

Grab has long been the dominant force in ride-hailing in Southeast Asia and speculation mounted that a deal with Uber was on the cards after Japanese financial titan Softbank in­vested huge sums in the US firm.

Softbank is also a major investor in Grab, and is known for pushing for consolidation in the global ride-hailing industry, which has been losing billions of dollars a year due to turf wars.

‘Fewer choices for commuters’

As part of Monday’s deal, Grab is combining Uber’s food delivery service in the region with its own and plans to expand it to more coun­tries.

While both sides said the move would benefit customers, analysts raised concerns a lack of competition could push up prices.

“Industry consolidation will mean fewer choices for commuters and fares are likely to trend higher over time as the remaining players seek to improve their profitability longer term,” Corrine Png, a transport ana­lyst from Singapore-based research firm Crucial Perspective, told AFP.

The GrabPH head also empha­sized that they are very excited to welcome Uber drivers to their family and have extended their “full support and resources in this time of transi­tion.”

“Our partnership with Uber will fuel our drive and passion for a bet­ter transport future even more. We will continue to work and collaborate with the Department of Transporta­tion (DOTr), Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB), local government units, and other stakeholders to constantly find ways to improve our services,”Cu added.

Meanwhile, LTFRB member lawyer Aileen Lizada said they will continue to regulate the fare struc­ture and monitor for the benefit of the riding public.

A consolidated hearing on fare hike petitions on both TNCs still to be resolved by LTFRB on April 3.