Date
19 November 2018
Singapore last month slapped ride-hailing firms Grab and Uber with fines and imposed restrictions on their businesses to open up the market to competitors, after concluding that their merger had driven up prices. Photo: Reuters
Singapore last month slapped ride-hailing firms Grab and Uber with fines and imposed restrictions on their businesses to open up the market to competitors, after concluding that their merger had driven up prices. Photo: Reuters

Uber to appeal Singapore’s competition watchdog decision on Grab

Uber Technologies Inc. is appealing a decision by the Singapore competition regulator that its merger with regional rival Grab violated the city-state’s competition laws, Reuters reports, citing a statement from the US company.

Last month, Singapore slapped ride-hailing firms Grab and Uber with fines and imposed restrictions on their businesses to open up the market to competitors, after concluding that their merger had driven up prices. It fined Grab S$6.42 million (US$4.7 million) and Uber S$6.58 million.

Uber said it was making the appeal independently of Grab, as a matter of principle. Separately, Grab said it would not appeal the regulator’s decision.

The Competition and Consumer Commission of Singapore’s ruling that the transaction led to a substantial lessening of competition, and that Uber had intentionally breached the law, was “unsupported and incorrect”, Uber said in the statement on Monday.

Uber asked the CCCS to annul its fine, and said the regulator had used a very narrow definition of the ride-hailing market.

It also pointed to Go-Jek’s impending entry into the city-state, saying the Indonesian ride-hailing company would make for a formidable competitor.

Uber disputed the CCCS’ allegation that Uber knew that the transaction infringed the law but nevertheless moved ahead.

“To the contrary, our view has always been that in a properly defined market – including at the very least ride-sharing, street-hail taxis and new entrants – the transaction respects the law and does not raise significant concerns,” it said.

Uber sold its Southeast Asian business to bigger regional rival Grab in March in exchange for a 27.5 percent stake in the Singapore-based firm. But the deal invited regulatory scrutiny.

Last week, the Philippines’ competition watchdog also fined the two firms, saying they consummated their merger too soon and that the quality of service had suffered.

Deal-making chief quits

In another development, Cameron Poetzscher, who oversaw a string of high-profile deals at Uber, has resigned, weeks after a report on allegations of sexual misconduct against him at the ride-hailing firm.

Uber chief financial officer Nelson Chai will take over Poetzscher’s duties while the company looks for his replacement, Reuters quoted an Uber spokeswoman as saying without providing further details.

Poetzscher, Uber’s head of corporate development, was disciplined last year after a probe found he had a pattern of making sexually suggestive comments about co-workers, the Wall Street Journal reported last month.

“After some concerns were raised in 2017, an outside law firm conducted a confidential review and I was rightfully disciplined,” Poetzscher said in a statement at the time.

Poetzscher, a former mergers and acquisitions executive at Goldman Sachs, oversaw several deals at Uber including its merger with the ride-hailing unit of Russia’s Yandex and the sale of its Southeast Asian business to Singapore’s Grab.

Poetzscher also led Uber’s funding deals with Japan’s SoftBank Group Corp. and Coatue Management, according to his LinkedIn profile.

Uber has been dogged by several accusations of having a toxic work culture. The company has also seen a series of executive departures over the past year.

Dara Khosrowshahi, who became CEO last year, has pledged to make a clean break with Uber’s past practices, which have also resulted in a litany of regulatory problems and driver and consumer scandals.

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CG

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