Uber officially goes offline today (8 April) in Southeast Asia as part of its operations merger with ride-hailing rival Grab. Well, it was supposed to, anyway. It looks like anti-trust regulators in Singapore and the Philippines aren’t too happy about the deal and have ordered Uber to keep its service active in those countries.
For Malaysians, unfortunately, I can personally report that service has been shut down as scheduled. The Uber app still works, of course, but you will not be able to book any cars. You don’t have to delete the app as you can still use it outside of Southeast Asia in countries where Uber still operates.
Consumers and driver partners are encouraged to migrate to the Grab platform. There is a new alternative: MyCar.
In Singapore, Uber had agreed to delay its shutdown as the Competition Commission of Singapore (CCS) investigates the merger. The competition watchdog has reasonable grounds to suspect competition had been infringed.
The CCS proposed interim measures to require both Uber and Grab to keep service active and maintain their pre-transaction independent pricing.
The CCS also requires both Grab and Uber not to obtain confidential information from each other including pricing, customers and drivers.
Singapore has a voluntary merger notification regime, and it is reported that Uber and Grab have not filed a formal merger notification. Grab has said that it will be making a voluntary notification no later than 16 April 2018.
The Philippines anti-trust agency, meanwhile, has order Uber to continue its domestic operations as it reviews the merger.
Similarly, the anti-trust body has asked Uber and Grab to maintain independence of their business operations.
It is reported that the Philippine transportation agency caps the number of ride-sharing vehicles at 65,000 across all brands. This figure is reviewed every three months.
The Uber-Grab deal is the biggest deal of its kind in Southeast Asia. It’s Uber’s third consolidation from a market after China and Russia, as it focuses on other markets like India and cleans up its books for its IPO planned in 2019.
The deal sees Grab acquiring Uber’s ride-sharing and food delivery operations in Southeast Asia, in exchange for a 27.5 percent stake in the combined business. Additionally, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi would join the Grab board.
Over 5 million people across 195 cities in Southeast Asia use Grab on a daily basis, with app downloads topping 90 million.