Uber is exiting Southeast Asia
Uber has agreed to sell its business in Southeast Asia to local rival Grab.
Grab is taking over Uber’s ride-hailing business in eight countries and Uber Eats, which is currently present in three. In exchange, Uber gets a 27.5 percent stake in Grab and Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi will join Grab’s board.
Southeast Asia is seen as a growth market thanks to a population of over 600 million people, many of whom are coming online for the first time, but it is also considered a loss-making market for new industries like ride-sharing — particularly when two companies are locked in a subsidies war.
This consolidation has been strongly rumored since SoftBank, an early investor in Grab, backed Uber via an investment in January.
Singapore orders Grab to delay closing Uber app for an additional 3 weeks
Grab’s plan to shutter Uber’s app quickly following its merger deal in Southeast Asia has hit another snag in Singapore where the ride-hailing firm has been forced to delay closing its rival’s service until May 7.
This is the second time that Grab has pushed back the removal of Uber’s app in Singapore, which was initially scheduled for closure on April 8 but was given an additional week as part of an investigation from the Competition and Consumer Commission of Singapore (CCCS) which is assessing the merger deal. This new May 7 date is also down to the CCCS probe, with the commission issuing an ‘Interim Measures Directions’ (IMD) to Grab in order to “ensure that the market remains open and contestable.”
Those directives — which Grab said it has had a hand in formulating — include measures that prevent Grab from taking Uber’s operational data on customers and their trip history, prevent lock-in and exclusivity options for drivers that join Grab or move over from Uber’s Lion City Rental entity, and end any exclusive deals Grab has with Singapore taxi firms.
The CCCS has also ruled that Grab and the Uber service must maintain prices for passengers and drivers, and remind both that their migration to the Grab platform is optional.
The ruling impacts the Singapore market only, which is where Grab is registered. The Uber app has already been closed in six other markets where it operated in Southeast Asia, while the UberEats service will fold into GrabFood by the end of May. Elsewhere, Uber’s ride-hailing service is scheduled to be closed on April 16 in the Philippines where, like Singapore, the regulator had handed down a week-long extension while it looked into the merger deal.
In both extensions, Grab is the one footing the bill for the continued operation of Uber since the U.S. firm has already exited these markets, in terms of funding and staffing, Uber’s head of operations for Asia Pacific has said.
The CCCS previously said that it has “reasonable grounds” to suspect that the Grab-Uber deal may fall foul of section 54 of Singapore’s Competition Act. The Philippine Competition Commission is still looking into the and there’s no word on whether it will follow the CCCS’ lead and force Grab to keep the Uber app open for a longer period.
The Singapore ruling is a blow for Grab which set out an aggressive two-week timeframe for closing Uber in Southeast Asia, having contacted regulators in advance of the deal which sees it pick up a dominant slice of app-based taxi books across eight countries in Southeast Asia. The key question for regulators, however, appears to be whether app-based hailing is a market unto itself, or whether it is part of the wider taxi market.
If regulators chose the former option, then Uber-Grab almost certainly creates a monopoly, but since consumers can also hail apps in more traditional ways — e.g. on the street — or via taxi companies’ dedicated apps — as is the case in Singapore — then the deal hasn’t created a dominant player. It’s certainly a tricky one to assess.
Meanwhile, here is Grab’s statement on the Uber app extension and the IMD:
We appreciate that CCCS accepted our alternative interim measures. On CCCS’ request, we have agreed to extend the Uber app to 7 May to allow for a smoother transition time for riders and drivers. We trust that the CCCS’ review takes into account a dynamic industry that is constantly evolving, highly competitive, and being disrupted by technology and new services. The interim measures should not have the unintended effect of hampering competition and restricting businesses that have already been investing in the country over the years.
Grab notes the CCCS’ objective of giving drivers choice, and is fully supportive of extending our platform to all taxi drivers, including ComfortDelGro drivers who are still constrained from picking up JustGrab jobs. Grab entered Singapore five years ago with minimal resources and the goal of enabling all taxi drivers to earn a better living using our platform. We recognise CCCS’ commitment to preserving competition; all companies – no matter big or small, digital or traditional – are capable of innovation in a free market.
We’re proud to headquarter in Singapore, where the country’s free market economy and policies enable businesses to compete and innovate vigorously to solve customer needs. We trust the government will continue to be pro-business in providing a path for startups to flourish and become sustainable businesses. We will work within the set constraints and continue to focus on building better products to compete, ensuring fairness for passengers and drivers, and cultivating the local tech talent pool through our regional R&D centre in Singapore.
Note: The original version of this story was updated to correct that Grab said it had been in contact with regulators prior to announcing the deal with Uber. Also corrected the name of its food delivery service is GrabFood.
Following Singapore, Philippines regulator forces Grab to delay closing Uber’s app
Grab has given the Uber app a stay of execution in yet another market as regulators across Southeast Asia continue to investigate the merger deal announced between the ride-hailing companies last month.
Fresh from extending the closure date a week in Singapore, Grab has done the same in the Philippines, a spokesperson confirmed to TechCrunch. This extension follows an order from the Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) made over the weekend, and it now means that Uber’s app will cease running in the country on April 16.
Elsewhere, Grab shuttered the Uber app in its six other markets in Southeast Asia today as planned, two weeks after the merger deal was confirmed. As for UberEats, that app will live on in the region until the end of May, after which it will be folded into GrabFood.
It appears that Grab didn’t count on Southeast Asia’s regulators being so intent to probe the tie-up.
The Competition and Consumer Commission of Singapore (CCCS) said last month that it had “reasonable grounds” to suspect that the deal may fall foul of section 54 of Singapore’s Competition Act, while the PCC voiced similar concerns last week.
“This move by Uber in the Philippine market leads to further substantial concentration of what is, to begin with, an already highly concentrated ride-sharing market. This virtual monopolization of the market by Grab can harm the riding public,” the organization’s chairman Arsenio M. Balisacan wrote in a statement.
That was countered by Uber, which argued that it is no longer in business in the region.
“Uber exited eight markets, including the Philippines, as of Monday. Now, I look after 10 markets, instead of 18. Our funding is gone. Our people are gone. We don’t intend to come back to these markets,” Brooks Entwistle, head of Uber’s Asia Pacific business, told the PCC at a hearing on Friday, according to Rappler.
If Uber is gone, who will run the app? That’s a valid question raised by the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) in the Philippines, which pointed out that consumer safety could be compromised without customer services and other Uber teams.
For now, Grab is stepping up and running the Uber app at its own cost, the company has confirmed. That may keep the lights on, but Grab-operating the Uber doesn’t really address the core issue of the PCC which is competition between two players. On that count, Uber has already left the building.
An excerpt from Grab’s (long) statement to the PCC is below:
Considering that Uber has exited the region on 25 March and clearly stated during the public hearing its incapacity to fund the operations in the Philippines, the parties have agreed to keep the Uber app operational with Grab bearing the costs, to give drivers and consumers time to adjust to Uber’s departure. In the spirit of cooperating with the PCC, Grab has also agreed to continue to bear the costs of the Uber app extension (from March 25 to April 8) until April 15, 2018. Our understanding from the PCC is that this interim arrangement, which was fully explained to the PCC, is not a breach of its Order.
Grab wishes to clarify that, although the Uber app continues to operate, it has limited functionality and little or no support. Grab noted that the LTFRB has expressed concerns pertaining to customer support and safety issues arising from Uber’s limited operations. Grab wishes to stress that this interim arrangement is only for the purposes of satisfying what the PCC appears to require until Grab is able to discuss with the PCC.
We hope that the PCC will sit with the parties to hear their sides and give a fair assessment of the concerns expressed by both parties and that any other action taken would take into account the practical hurdles that may lie across the parties’ paths.
The full read — for those who like regulatory filings and responses to them — can be found here.
Grab delays shuttering Uber app as Singapore probes merger deal
Fans of Uber in Singapore will have a little more time to continue using the app after Grab, the rival that is acquiring Uber’s business in the region, agreed to extend the life of the app until April 15 while the country’s competition commission reviews the merger deal.
Grab had originally intended to close the Uber app by April 8, but that has been delayed in Singapore by one week following a request from the Competition and Consumer Commission of Singapore (CCCS) while it continues to assess the implications of the tie-up.
This agreement only covers Singapore, however, so the Uber app will be closed in the seven other countries where it was operational on April 8. Uber Eats is also being transitioned to Grab, as part of its Grab Food platform, and it will be closed at the end of May.
Last week, the CCCS said it has “reasonable grounds” to suspect that the deal may fall foul of section 54 of Singapore’s Competition Act. The organization issued an Interim Measures Directions (IMD) to Uber and Grab — the first of its kind in Singapore — which instructed both parties to “maintain pre-transaction independent pricing, pricing policies and product options,” hence the extension of life for Uber’s app.
Grab said it had provided an alternative proposal “which takes into account our role in Singapore’s vibrant point-to-point transport industry and how Grab serves commuters and drivers,” which the CCCS confirmed that it is reviewing.
A Grab spokesperson declined to discuss the details of the proposal with TechCrunch.
At this point it is unclear whether the Uber app will get another extension. Assuming that the CCCS doesn’t come to a conclusion within the next week and the IMD remains, then Uber may live on a little longer in Southeast Asia. But, if the commission is ready to move on, then the April 15 close will happen as scheduled.
Here’s the key segment of concern to the commission:
About the Section 54 Prohibition under the Competition Act & Merger Procedures
Section 54 of the Act prohibits mergers that have resulted, or may be expected to result, in a substantial lessening of competition in Singapore.
CCCS is generally of the view that competition concerns are unlikely to arise in a merger situation unless:
The merged entity has/will have a market share of 40% or more; or
The merged entity has/will have a market share of between 20% to 40% and the post-merger combined market share of the three largest firms is 70% or more.
One major factor is how Grab’s business is viewed. The commission defines the space not as ride-hailing — where Grab would appear to hold a significantly dominant position by acquiring Uber’s business — but instead as “chauffeured personal point-to-point transport passenger and booking services.”
In that respect, taxi companies in Singapore — which allow booking by SMS and phone call, and also offer ride-hailing apps in some cases — may be considered competition which might water down Grab’s market share. Likewise, Grab’s case may be helped by Singapore carpooling service Ryde’s plan to add private car services in an effort to fill some of the gap post-Uber.
Here’s Grab statement in full:
Grab continues to engage closely with the CCCS. We’ve had productive discussions on our alternative proposals, which more appropriately address the CCCS’ objectives during this interim period, and which takes into account our role in Singapore’s vibrant point-to-point transport industry and how Grab serves commuters and drivers. Together with the CCCS and Uber, we’ve agreed that the Uber app will run for another week until 15 April, while the CCCS considers Grab’s proposal. We hope the CCCS will complete its review in an expeditious manner, so that we can continue competing with incumbent transport companies and with new entrants. We will continue working with the CCCS and other relevant agencies to ensure a pro-business and pro-innovation environment, so that Singapore consumers can benefit from new and improved services.
In the meantime, the Grab app operates as per normal. The extension also gives Uber drivers more time to sign up on alternative platforms. Grab has helped thousands of former Uber drivers sign up to the Grab platform and will continue to provide support to those who are interested, as well as to obtain their PDVL.
Note: The original version of this article has been updated to correct that the Uber app will only be extended in Singapore, not across all Southeast Asian markets.
More countries are probing Grab-Uber deal over anti-competition concerns
Singapore’s competition agency last week opened an investigation into Grab’s acquisition of Uber’s Southeast Asia, and now authorities in the Philippines and Malaysia are following suit by looking closely at the deal.
From The Philippines Competition Commission:
The Grab-Uber acquisition is likely to have a far reaching impact on the riding public and the transportation services. As such, the PCC is looking at the deal closely with the end view of potentially reviewing it for competition concerns, as a notified transaction, or by opening a motu proprio case.
And Malaysia’s minister in charge of public transport licensing, speaking to Reuters:
We won’t take it lightly. We will monitor this because it is still early days and we don’t know what will happen next. We have stressed that if there is any anti-competitive behavior, the Competition Act will come into force. We have spelt this out to them.
Reuters reports that Indonesian authorities aren’t yet commenting on whether they will probe the tie-up.
Announcing the deal last week, Grab said it planned to close the Uber app within two weeks — meaning by the end of this week at the time of writing — while Uber Eats will continue until the end of May before being folded into the Grab Food service.
However, the Competition Commission of Singapore (CCS) requested that both companies maintain their products and pricing while it conducts an overview of how the transaction impacts the competitive landscape. The organization said it has “reasonable grounds” to suspect that the deal may fall foul of section 54 of Singapore’s Competition Act.
Meanwhile, Grab CEO Anthony Tan told the BBC in an interview that there are “zero issues” with how the deal was done. Tan said Grab will work with regulators and that it has already committed to maintaining prices.
Singapore says Uber-Grab deal may violate competition laws
Uber’s exit from Southeast Asia is under scrutiny from regulators in Singapore who believe that Grab’s purchase of the U.S. firm’s business in the region may violate competition laws.
Singapore-based Grab, Uber’s chief rival in the region, announced the acquisition of Uber’s Southeast Asian business on Monday. In return, Uber is taking 27.5 percent of the Grab business, which is valued at over $6 billion, in a move that appears to be a win for both parties.
Grab plans to shutter the Uber app in less than two weeks and migrate passengers and drivers to its services. It will also integrate Uber Eats into its nascent food delivery service.
The coming together has already concerned consumers, who believe that prices may rise without two companies competeting head-to-head, and now the Competition Commission of Singapore (CCS) has announced that it is looking into the deal.
The organization said it has “reasonable grounds” to suspect that the deal may fall foul of section 54 of Singapore’s Competition Act.
CCS is generally of the view that competition concerns are unlikely to arise in a merger situation unless:
The merged entity has/will have a market share of 40 percent or more; or
The merged entity has/will have a market share of between 20 percent to 40 percent and the post-merger combined market share of the three largest firms is 70 percent or more.
That might make the deal a little tricky to explain for Grab, which claims over 90 million downloads and more than five million drivers and agents for its transportation and fintech services.
In a first for Singapore, the CCS said it has proposed an Interim Measures Directions (IMD) that requires both Grab and Uber to “maintain pre-transaction independent pricing, pricing policies and product options.” The commission also directed Grab to not take confidential information from Uber nor lock Uber drivers into driving for Grab.
The commision defines the space not as ride-hailing — where Grab would appear to hold a significantly dominant position by acquiring Uber’s business — but instead as “chauffeured personal point-to-point transport passenger and booking services.”
In that respect, taxi companies in Singapore — which allow booking by SMS and phone call, and also offer ride-hailing apps in some cases — may be considered competition which might water down Grab’s marketshare. Likewise, Grab’s case may be helped by Singapore carpooling service Ryde’s plan to add private car services in an effort to fill some of the gap post-Uber.
Lim Kell Jay, head of Grab Singapore, argued in a statement that the deal with Uber allows consumers a choice against “the dominant taxi industry” and that Grab has already committed to freezing its prices. He added that Grab would work with the CCS and other authorities over the deal as required.
Five years ago, consumers were not able to flag or book taxis easily as supply was a problem. Grab innovated to improve the point-to-point transport within the overall transportation industry, particularly the availability and quality of both taxi and car services. Improving services for commuters and drivers will always be our priority, and we urge the government to allow us to freely compete and complement the dominant taxi business. To address consumer concerns, we have voluntarily committed to maintaining our fare structure and will not increase base fares. This is a commitment we are prepared to give the CCS, and to the public. We have and will continue to work with the CCS, LTA and other relevant authorities, and will propose measures to reassure the CCS, our driver-partners and consumers.
Grab has conducted its comprehensive due diligence and legal analysis with its advisers before entering into and concluding the transaction. We had engaged with the CCS prior to signing and continue to do so. Even though not required by the law, we have informed the CCS that we are making a voluntary notification no later than 16 April 2018 to continue to cooperate and engage with the CCS.
The CCS said it has the power to unwind or modify a deal if it sees that its completion will substantially weaken competition, but it is unclear what that might mean for a regional business like Grab.
Grab and Uber operate in eight markets in Southeast Asia, but Singapore — which is where Grab is headquartered and registered as a business — is the first country where a competitive agency is pouring over the deal.
Southeast Asia exit deal is a win, not a defeat, for Uber
They say in sport that the best teams win even when they don’t perform. On those terms, Uber seems unstoppable.
The day’s big news is that the U.S. ride-hailing firm is leaving Southeast Asia after it agreed to sell its business to local rival Grab. That much is true, but claims that Grab beat Uber out may be overstating the situation.
Ordinarily, you’d call the exit a loss for Uber and a win for Grab, but the devil is in the detail. The deal that has been agreed is a very solid win for both sides which reads more than an alliance than a settlement between winner and loser.
Let’s consider the facts:
Uber takes a 27.5 percent stake in a growing business that was most recently valued at $6 billion.
That stake — worth north of $1.6 billion — is a strong return considering that Uber said today it has invested $700 million in Southeast Asia over the past five years.
Grab takes over and shuts down its largest rival’s business, all while importing any drivers and passengers that aren’t already on its platform and adding Uber Eats to its nascent food delivery play.
That’s a notable outcome for Grab, which started out offering licensed taxis only and required passengers to pay their bill in cash until three years ago. When Uber first arrived the two were hugely differentiated and market share was fairly even, but now Grab is the dominant player in the region by some margin.
Despite humble beginnings, Grab — which started out in Malaysia but relocated to Singapore — has made strides over the past two years. Today, it offers more than 10 transportation services — including taxis, private cars, car-pooling, bicycle sharing, and bike taxis — across eight countries.
You might read about its localization strategy and how important it is, and for sure it is impressive.
Beyond food delivery — which is now a fairly standard expansion for ride-sharing companies — it has made a push into financial services through its GrabPay service, which allows users to pay for goods and services offline, and a new venture that provides micro-loans and insurance products.
Grab’s focus on fanning out beyond ride-sharing is designed to capture and engage users beyond just offering transportation. The theory is that this not only makes it more useful to users, but it introduces entirely different (and potentially more lucrative) business opportunities that set the company up to become a profitable entity further down the line.
But — and this is the important caveat — this product expansion is in its early stages so the effect didn’t play out on Grab’s rivalry with Uber.
In fact, it looks like a lot of the rivalry came down to the usual factor: Money.
Put simply, Grab has consistently secured the financial backing of its investors.
As one senior Uber employee in Southeast Asia aptly explained to TechCrunch recently: “They just kept giving them money!”
Over the past two years the money factor appeared to swing in Grab’s favor. It raised $750 million in late 2016, and then followed that up with more than $2.5 billion last year to take it to more than $4 billion from investors at a valuation of over $6 billion.
Compare that to the $700 million Uber had invested in Southeast Asia and you can already see an advantage which is particularly key in ride-hailing when two firms are locked in an ongoing subsidy war.
So, for all those comparisons and fancy charts that show the total amount Uber raised as a global business, it was financially outmuscled in Southeast Asia presumably because it chose to limit its investment.
Grab’s money was strategic, too.
SoftBank and Didi, the ‘Uber slayer’ of China, fronted $2 billion of the newest round, while the likes of Toyota, Hyundai, Tiger Global, Coatue Management and influential Indonesian firms Emtek and Lippo are among others to have come aboard in recent years.
That network allowed Grab to hire experienced executives to fill out its team, including most notably Ming Maa, a “deal-maker” who joined as company President from SoftBank 18 months ago.
Uber was often quick to point out that it gave country offices the freedom to suggest and implement localized policies and ideas, but in Southeast Asia it seemed to lack overall coherence. For example, it only appointed a regional head for Southeast Asia last August, some four years after its initial arrival.
That symbolizes its struggle to develop a strategy until it was too late. And that’s without even mentioning the wave of controversies that hit Uber as a company in 2017, which no doubt impacted decision-making outside of the U.S..
Uber struck decent deals to exit China and Russia, and it appears to be the same again here.
As a private company, it isn’t possible to analyze Grab’s shareholders and their ownership percentages, but Uber is likely now one of the largest investors in the business. That’s the ideal scenario for Uber and its shareholders because Southeast Asia is forecast to be a major growth market for ride-hailing, and Uber is now in the front seat with the market leader.
Currently a loss-making region for Grab and Uber, revenue from taxi apps in Southeast Asia is said to have more than doubled over the past two years to cross $5 billion in 2017, according to a recent report co-authored by Google. The industry is expected to grow more than four-fold to hit $20 billion by 2025, according to the same research.
Uber could have continued on, increased its investment and still seen success, but the deal it has landed allows it to maintain a presence via proxy while diverting resources to other markets worldwide. That stake in Grab, which is worth north of $1.6 billion as of Grab’s most recent funding round, is likely to appreciate significantly over time as the market grows and Grab’s fintech play yields fruit.
Sources close to the deal indicate that Grab gave Uber less than $100 million as part of this deal, and it will take on Uber’s roughly 500 staff across the region in addition to its ride-hailing business and Uber Eats, which is present in three countries.
More than the operational gains, Grab can now count on both Uber and China’s Didi as investors, with Uber CEO Khosrowshahi joining the board. That’s the kind of influence and experience that money can’t buy, and it may be essential for what comes next.
The next stage of ride-sharing in Southeast Asia will pit Grab against Indonesia’s Go-Jek, a $5 billion startup backed by big names including Google and Tencent. Go-Jek is leading in its home market — where it pioneered the kind of financial products and on-demand services that Grab is just launching now — and it houses ambitions to export its empire to new markets starting this year.
One source close to Go-Jek told TechCrunch that the company is preparing to launch in the Philippines potentially before the end of March. Go-Jek has been very deliberate about taking its time, but now that Uber is out of the equation in Southeast Asia, it’s time to walk to walk and amp up the battle.
Uber CEO says there will be no more global exit deals
Uber has exited three global markets by selling to rivals, but enough is enough after its deal with Grab so says CEO Dara Khosrowshahi.
Following today’s announcement with Grab which sees Uber leave Southeast Asia hot on the heels of exits in China (2016) and Russia (2017), Khosrowshahi told employees that there will be no more repeats under his leadership.
It is fair to ask whether consolidation is now the strategy of the day, given this is the third deal of its kind, from China to Russia and now Southeast Asia. The answer is no.
One of the potential dangers of our global strategy is that we take on too many battles across too many fronts and with too many competitors. This transaction now puts us in a position to compete with real focus and weight in the core markets where we operate, while giving us valuable and growing equity stakes in a number of big and important markets where we don’t.
Rather that deals, the Uber CEO said he plans to develop the business organically via “growth that comes from building the best products, services and technology in the world.”
Since SoftBank’s investment in Uber closed in January there has been heightened speculation about potential consolidations in emerging markets, where the ride-hailing business is further from profitability than more developed markets like Europe and the U.S.. Indeed, SoftBank itself has called for Uber to focus on more financially-sustaining regions of the world.
Southeast Asia, where SoftBank has backed Grab, was a prime candidate for consolidation while India, where SoftBank-backed Ola competes with Grab, is another.
Just weeks ago, Khosrowshahi said Uber would invest to compete aggressively in Southeast Asia and yet this deal has been completed. Time will tell if this new denial of future deals will ring true, or whether SoftBank and others seeking consolidation will ring out.
It’s official: Uber sells Southeast Asia business to Grab
It’s official, Uber has announced that it has sold its Southeast Asia-based business to rival Grab.
The deal follows a month of speculation, and it will see Grab — which is valued at over $6 billion — buy up Uber’s ride-sharing business in eight countries in Southeast Asia. It will also take over Uber Eats, which is currently present in three, and expand that service across the region during the first half of this year.
In exchange, Uber will get a 27.5 percent stake in Singapore-based Grab while Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi will join Grab’s board.
The deal starts to make sense when you consider that both companies share common investors — SoftBank and Didi — and that waging an expensive subsidies war in what is currently a loss-making hurts both sides.
Many consumers in the Southeast Asian region may be concerned at the end of the competition between the two, and there isn’t much time left. Grab said that Uber’s ride-sharing app will be available for a further two weeks, while Uber Eats will close down and migrate to GrabFood at the end of May.
Grab said today it has reached over 90 million downloads with more than five million drivers and agents for its fintech services.
The deal puts Grab in absolute control of Southeast Asia’s ride-sharing market, bar Indonesia, but the company doesn’t believe that the deal — which it is calling a merger — will represent any issue for Singapore’s monopoly laws.
“Grab is committed to cooperating with local regulators in relation to the acquisition. Grab believes the acquisition will add to, among others, vibrant and competitive ride-hailing, delivery and transportation spaces, and it will make a merger notification to the Competition Commission of Singapore,” the company wrote.
We shall see.
Now some money statements from the figures involved.
Anthony Tan, Group CEO and Co-founder, Grab:
“We are humbled that a company born in Southeast Asia has built one of the largest platforms that millions of consumers use daily and provides income opportunities to over 5 million people. Today’s acquisition marks the beginning of a new era. The combined business is the leader in platform and cost efficiency in the region. Together with Uber, we are now in an even better position to fulfil our promise to outserve our customers. Their trust in us as a transport brand allows us to look towards the next step as a company: improving people’s lives through food, payments and financial services.”
Dara Khosrowshahi, CEO of Uber:
“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 as we invest heavily in our products and technology to create the best customer experience on the planet. We’re excited to take this step with Anthony and his entire team at Grab, and look forward to Grab’s future in Southeast Asia.”
The deal puts pressure on Go-Jek, the $5 billion market leader in Indonesia backed by Google and Tencent, which has not yet expanded across Southeast Asia. Grab has cleared the way to be the single dominant force in all other markets in the region — which has a cumulative population of over 600 million people — so if Go-Jek is going to venture overseas, now is definitely the time.
This retreat marks Uber’s third exit from an international geography at the hands of a rival.
Uber previously exited China in 2016 after striking an equity exchange deal with Chinese market leader Didi and it quit Russia last year after it sold its business in the country to local rival Yandex.
The Grab deal feels somehow different since, prior to last year, Uber and Grab were fairly evenly matched. But a litany of internal issues at Uber in 2017 — which ultimately led to the resignation of co-founder and CEO Travis Kalanick and an investment from SoftBank — saw Uber take its eye off the ball in Southeast Asia.
Grab, to its credit, pushed on and raising another $2.5 billion last year from investors while it expanded into financial services through a payment system and, most recently, plans for micro-loans and insurance.
This deal seemed unlikely a year ago, now the question is whether there is further consolidation to come. India, where Uber battles domestic rival Ola, is the most obvious market where that could happen.
Uber has agreed to sell its Southeast Asia business to rival Grab
After weeks of speculation, Uber has concluded a deal that will see it sell its business in Southeast Asia to local rival Grab. The company plans to announce the agreement this coming week and potentially as soon as Monday, two sources have confirmed to TechCrunch.
Full details of the arrangement aren’t fully clear at this point, but TechCrunch understands that Singapore-based Grab will take over Uber’s ride-sharing in the eight markets in Southeast Asia where it is operational. It will also take ownership of Uber Eats, which is available in Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore. Bloomberg reported today that Uber will take 25-30 percent equity in Grab in exchange.
Both Uber and Grab declined to comment when contacted separately for comment.
The successful conclusion of negotiations comes less than two months after SoftBank, an early investor in Grab, secured a long-drawn-out deal to become an Uber shareholder.
SoftBank is thought to have favored consolidating Uber’s businesses in emerging markets, with Southeast Asia — a loss-making geography for all — one of its apparent targets. That’s despite significant growth potential as more of the regions 600 million consumers come online for the first time.
Revenue from taxi apps is said to have more than doubled over the past two years to cross $5 billion in 2017, according to a recent report co-authored by Google. The industry is expected to reach $20 billion by 2025, the same report found.
Uber previously exited China in 2016 after striking an equity exchange deal with Chinese market leader Didi. The U.S. firm also quit Russia last year after it sold its business in the country to local rival Yandex.
Unlike those two deals, however, Uber had held a decent position in Southeast Asia in recent times although it appeared to lose considerable market share last year. Issues inside Uber, including the resignation of founding CEO Travis Kalanick and investor squabbles, seemed to divert its attention away from Southeast Asia. All the while, Grab marched on and it notably refueled its tanks with over $2.5 billion in additional funding from investors.
Grab isn’t the only rival in Southeast Asia, however. Go-Jek leads the Indonesian market and it recently gained the backing of Google, JD.com and Tencent at a valuation of some $5 billion. Despite winning in Indonesia, Southeast Asia’s largest economy and the world’s fourth most populous country, Go-Jek is yet to venture overseas. This Uber-Grab consolidate certains gives it a good reason to expedite those plans.