Singapore competition watchdog fines Uber, Grab more than S$13m for merger

Singapore watchdog fines Grab, Uber US$9.5 million over merger

Grab-Uber Merger Sees Consequences: Both Fined Total Of $13M By S’pore Competition Watchdog

The Competition and Consumer Commission of Singapore (CCCS) has fined Grab and Uber a total of $13,001,702 SGD ($9.5 million United States dollars, P500 million) for the two companies' merger, which the agency described as "anti-competitive".

The ridehailing giant was hit with a $4.8m (£3.7m) fine by Singapore's Competition and Consumer Commission after an investigation into its merger with local rival Grab.

Grab's exclusivity obligations on taxi companies, auto rental partners and even some drivers also hampered smaller players from expanding in the ride-hailing market, CCCS found.

Grab in March 2018 announced it was acquiring Uber's regional business and giving the U.S. ride-sharing company a 27.5 percent stake in return.

However the deal came under scrutiny across the region, and the Competition and Consumer Commission of Singapore was among watchdogs in several countries that launched probes.

"Financial penalties deter the completion of irreversible mergers that harm competition", the Commission said.

Lim Kell Jay, head of Grab Singapore, said the firm completed the deal "within its legal rights, and still maintains we did not intentionally or negligently breach competition laws".

What's more, the watchdog is forcing Uber to sell the cars held by Lion City Rentals, the car-rentals outfit which it continued to own after the Grab merger, to "any potential competitor who makes a reasonable offer based on fair market value", and not to Grab, so as to stop them from "absorbing or hoarding Lion City Rentals vehicles to inhibit the access to a vehicle fleet by a new competitor".

The CCCS's solution does not merely extend to fines.

Grab's fares also were found to have climbed between 10 percent and 15 percent following the Uber deal, said CCCS. Commuters are free to choose between street-hail taxis and private hire cars, and it is a fact that private hire auto drivers' incomes are directly impacted by intense competition with street-hail taxis.

But Grab echoed its earlier sentiment toward the CCCS' "narrow" approach to its definition of competition.

"We are disappointed by the CCCS decision announced today".

It proposed Interim Measures Directions on March 30 and finalised them on April 13 to lessen the impact of the transaction on drivers and riders, while continuing with the investigation.

Grab said in its statement: "For drivers to have full maximum choice, all transport players, including taxi operators, should also be subjected to non-exclusivity conditions". "This is inconsistent with taxi industry practices and does not create a level playing field".

Grab also dismissed suggestions it raised its fares since the Uber transaction and said it would "continue to adhere to our pre-transaction pricing model, pricing policies, and driver commission".

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