Ride-hailing firm Grab hits back in Uber takeover row

Singapore-headquartered Grab in March agreed to buy Uber’s ride-hailing and food business in Southeast Asia, ending a bruising battle between the ride-hailing companies. (AFP)
Updated 27 July 2018
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Ride-hailing firm Grab hits back in Uber takeover row

SINGAPORE: Ride-hailing firm Grab insisted Friday its takeover of Uber’s businesses in Southeast Asia has not substantially eroded competition in Singapore after a threat from the city-state’s anti-monopoly watchdog to reverse the deal.
The Competition and Consumer Commission of Singapore (CCCS) earlier this month threatened to overturn the deal, and called for changes to be made as it infringed competition rules.
Grab — Southeast Asia’s dominant ride-hailing firm, operating in eight countries — said it has submitted a written response to the commission defending the transaction.
“Grab disagrees with the CCCS finding that the Grab/Uber deal has led to a substantial lessening of competition,” the company said.
It said some of the measures proposed by the commission were “unwarranted” but vowed it would continue to cooperate with the watchdog in their ongoing review.
Singapore-headquartered Grab in March agreed to buy Uber’s ride-hailing and food business in Southeast Asia, ending a bruising battle between the ride-hailing companies.
But Singapore’s competition commission found that the deal created a virtual monopoly in the city-state’s ride-hailing market, with Grab raising prices after the merger was completed.
It asked Grab to revert to pre-merger pricing and end its exclusive contracts with drivers so other players would find it easier to enter the market.
Grab however said this was “one-sided” as the commission allows other industry players to enter into exclusivity arrangements.
“Grab believes that this double-standard goes against the spirit of increasing choices for drivers and riders,” it said.
Grab also said it has maintained its pricing and driver commissions, citing data showing that the average fare per ride fell by 3.4 percent since the merger.
The Grab-Uber deal has come under scrutiny across the region, with Malaysia and the Philippines also launching investigations.
In return for selling its Southeast Asian ride-hailing and food operations, California-headquartered Uber received a 27.5 percent stake in Grab.
Since the merger, several new players, including India’s Jugnoo and Singapore-based Ryde, have entered Singapore’s ride-hailing market.
Indonesian firm Go-Jek has also said it plans to launch in the city-state.


Gulf countries strengthen oil coordination amid tensions: Kuwait

Updated 20 May 2019
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Gulf countries strengthen oil coordination amid tensions: Kuwait

  • ‘It is normal amid this escalation that Kuwait and the Gulf Cooperation Council countries take these steps’
  • Kuwait was in ‘constant contact’ with its ally, the US

KUWAIT CITY: Kuwait’s deputy foreign minister said countries in the Gulf have strengthened coordination to provide oil to global markets amid increased regional tensions.
“It is normal amid this escalation that Kuwait and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries take these steps,” Khalid Al-Jarallah told reporters late Sunday on the sidelines of a Ramadan sit-down organized by the Iraqi embassy.
“There is cooperation and coordination between Kuwait and the Gulf countries to provide guarantees for oil tankers and continuous supply of energy to global markets.”
Jarallah’s comments come days after sabotage attacks against tankers in highly sensitive Gulf waters and the bombing of a Saudi pipeline — the latter claimed by Iran-aligned Yemeni rebels.
Both attacks targeted routes built as alternatives to the Strait of Hormuz, the conduit for almost all Gulf exports.
The US Fifth Fleet headquartered in Bahrain said the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council began “enhanced security patrols” Saturday in international waters, in “tight coordination with the US navy.”
Iran has repeatedly threatened to close the strait in case of war with the United States, which earlier this month announced it was sending an aircraft carrier and strike group to the region.
Kuwait’s deputy foreign minister said “tension was escalating quickly” but he remained hopeful.
He added Kuwait was in “constant contact” with its ally, the US.
On Saturday, OPEC giant Saudi Arabia called for urgent meetings of the GCC and the Arab League to discuss recent “aggressions and their consequences” in the region.
The two summits are scheduled to be held in Makkah on May 30.
Jarallah welcomed the kingdom’s invitation, saying Kuwait was keen to take part in discussions on issues “potentially dangerous” to the region.