India’s Ola to launch in Britain as Uber rivalry heats up

Ola has obtained licenses to begin operations in South Wales in September, as well as Greater Manchester, and plans to expand nationwide by the end of the year. (Reuters)
Updated 07 August 2018
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India’s Ola to launch in Britain as Uber rivalry heats up

  • Ola is targeting high-booking markets in search of profitability because in India
  • Ola and Uber, which both count Japan’s SoftBank Group as an investor, have been competing in India’s $12 billion taxi market

NEW DELHI: Indian ride-hailing firm Ola said on Tuesday it plans to launch services in Britain this year, months after expanding operations in Australia, intensifying its rivalry with US peer Uber Technologies Inc. .
Ola has obtained licenses to begin operations in South Wales in September, as well as Greater Manchester, and plans to expand nationwide by the end of the year, it said in a statement.
The firm will offer private vehicles for hire as well as Britain’s famous black cabs on its platform, and will add more transportation options going forward.
Ola and Uber, which both count Japan’s SoftBank Group as an investor, have been competing in India’s $12 billion taxi market and in recent months have taken their rivalry overseas.
Ola is targeting high-booking markets in search of profitability because in India, less loyal consumers demanding low-cost rides makes competition more intense, said Neil Shah, research director at consultancy Counterpoint Research.
In February, Ola launched operations in Australia, its first foray outside India and in one of Uber’s strongholds where the Indian company now has 40,000 drivers on its platform across seven cities.
Uber has a presence in Britain as well.
“This could put pressure on Uber and cause them to possibly merge in India,” said Shah, adding that Ola could use its international expansion strategy into Uber territories as leverage.
Uber, in March, decided to exit Southeast Asia, allowing it to focus on India.
Ola, founded in 2011, clocks one billion rides each year globally, and has more than one million driver partners in over 110 cities, it said.
The company is also expanding into food delivery, has partnered Microsoft Corp. to build a platform for networked cars, and is experimenting with electric vehicles.


Uber agrees to pay VAT in Egypt

Updated 18 February 2019
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Uber agrees to pay VAT in Egypt

  • Egypt introduced a law last May regulating ride-hailing apps Uber and Careem
  • Uber has said that Egypt is its largest market in the Middle East
CAIRO: Uber has agreed to pay value-added tax on its services in Egypt, Egyptian officials said on Monday, a move that may help resolve a long-simmering feud with traditional taxi drivers.
The agreement would also apply to other ride-hailing companies, the head of the Egyptian Tax Authority, Abdel Azeem Hussein, said. Egypt’s value-added tax (VAT) rate is 14 percent.
“Reaching an agreement and determining the tax treatment that will be applied to the company Uber and other companies operating in the same area will enhance confidence and cooperation between the authority and the tax community,” state news agency MENA quoted Hussein as saying.
Uber Egypt was not immediately available for comment.
Egypt introduced a law last May regulating ride-hailing apps Uber and Careem, after Egyptian taxi drivers filed a lawsuit arguing that the two companies were illegally using private cars as taxis and were registered as a call center and an Internet company, respectively.
An Egyptian court suspended Uber and Careem’s services in March last year after the taxi drivers’ suit but another court stayed the suspension ruling in April, allowing the companies to operate while the case was appealed to a higher court. A verdict is expected on Saturday.
Careem could not immediately be reached for comment on whether it will pay the VAT.
Uber riders and drivers in Egypt have said they faced various technical difficulties with the Uber app in recent weeks, which two security sources said was linked to data-sharing disputes with Egyptian authorities.
Uber has faced regulatory and legal setbacks around the world amid opposition from traditional taxi services. It has been forced to quit several countries, including Denmark and Hungary.
Uber has said that Egypt is its largest market in the Middle East, with 157,000 drivers in 2017 and 4 million users since its launch there in 2014.