Uber App Remains Operational--For Now--Upon Order of Gov't Agency

The Uber ride-sharing app is still online despite its earlier announcement that it will cease to be operational by April 9, 2018--after Grab Holdings, Inc. acquired its operations recently--upon orders of the Philippine Competition Commission (PCC), a government agency that ensures there will be no monopolies or other unfair trade practices in business, while it reviews the merger between the two companies.

"The PCC believes that Uber is capable of operating its ride-hailing app in the country, despite its claims that it has already exited the Southeast Asia market," said PCC Chairman Arsenio M. Balisacan in a statement. "Uber is highlighting its exit, but what it does not emphasize enough is its integration with Grab. Thus, Uber is not truly exiting the Philippine market, but rather effectively merging their operations with Grab here. The deal makes Uber a part-owner of Grab."

Balisacan noted that the move by Uber in the local market leads to further substantial concentration of what he claims is "an already highly concentrated ride-sharing market."

"This virtual monopolization of the market by Grab can harm the riding public," he added.

So while the PCC conducts a motu proprio (an official act taken without a formal request from another party) review of the merger, the agency has ordered both parties to maintain the independence of their business operations and other conditions prevailing prior to March 25, 2018, which include: ride-hailing and delivery platforms; pricing and payment policies including incentives and promotions to riders; product options; customer and rider database; and on-boarding of new partner drivers as well as the fees, charges, and incentives to partner drivers, among other measures.

"Uber's compliance with our antitrust counterpart in Singapore to extend the operation of its app indicates the feasibility of continuing its operations in the Philippines as well," Balisacan shared.



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