24 March 2019
Grab says it has a 95 percent share of the taxi-hailing market in Southeast Asia. Photo: Bloomberg
Grab says it has a 95 percent share of the taxi-hailing market in Southeast Asia. Photo: Bloomberg

Uber wants to sell Southeast Asia business to Grab: CNBC


Ride-hailing giant Uber Technologies is preparing to sell its Southeast Asia business to Singapore-based Grab in exchange for a substantial stake in the company, CNBC reported, citing two sources familiar with the matter.

No deal has been reached yet and the timing of any deal is uncertain, the report said. Uber and Grab declined to comment.

The move would follow Uber’s strategy in China, where the company sold its ride-hailing operation to Didi for 20 percent ownership, and Russia, where the company merged its local business with Yandex’s ride-hailing business for a 37 percent stake, the financial news broadcaster said.

Reuters reported in November that SoftBank Group’s multibillion-dollar investment in Uber had opened up the possibility of combining it with other ride-hailing assets that the Japanese group owns.

Grab operates in more than 100 cities across Southeast Asia. It said it had 95 percent share of the taxi-hailing market in the region when it announced plans to raise more than US$2.5 billion from SoftBank and other investors in 2017.

The planned deal with Grab is meant to help Uber rein in costs as it prepares for an initial public offering as early as next year, CNBC quoted its sources as saying.

Uber’s loss jumped 61 percent to US$4.5 billion in 2017, although its loss in the three months to December narrowed to US$1.1 billion from US$1.46 billion in the third quarter.

On Monday, Singapore’s competition commission said it plans to do a more in-depth assessment of the tie-up between the city-state’s top taxi operator, ComfortDelGro, and Uber, after an initial review, Reuters reported.

The Competition Commission of Singapore said it has requested further information from both parties to be submitted by March 5, after which it will assess whether their tie-up infringes Singapore’s competition laws.

ComfortDelGro said in December it would buy a 51 percent stake in a unit of Uber that runs a fleet of private hire vehicles, as the companies seek to bridge the gap with dominant ride-hailing firm Grab.

Meanwhile, Sony Corp. plans to form a joint venture to develop an artificial intelligence-based taxi-hailing system in Japan, the Nikkei Asian Review reported on Tuesday.

Partners for the joint venture include Daiwa Motor Transportation, Hinomaru Kotsu, Kokusai Motorcars, Green Cab and the Checker Cab group to build the platform, Reuters said, citing the Nikkei report.

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