Uber Belies Reports It Is Selling Its ASEAN Business to Rival Grab
Months ago, at around the end of January 2018, rumors began circulating that Uber Technology, Inc. was supposedly planning to sell its Southeast Asia operations to rival ride-sharing and transportation network company Grab. What started the rumor was Japanese bank Softbank’s investment into Uber to the amount of $1.2 billion which was finalized weeks before on January 17, 2018. While a bank investing its money into a company is not new, what piqued some people’s interest is that Softbank is also an investor with Grab, with reports stating that it has, along with other investors, already injected $3.5 billion into the company and is now its largest shareholder with a 15 percent stake.
As soon as the rumors of Grab’s planned buyout of Uber started to spread in January 2018, Carmudi.com.ph personally asked Uber Philippines government relations and public policy chief Yves Gonzalez if this was true but he merely laughed it off.
The rumors, however, still persisted, prompting the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) to ask Uber Philippines and Gonzales himself recently if this was true.
According to the agency, Uber Philippines relayed Uber headquarter’s stand that it will not sell its Southeast Asian operations but instead will continue “to invest more” in the region.
Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi himself dismissed the rumor on a recent visit to Asia in February 2018. According to Reuter.com, the Uber boss said that while the company expects to lose money in Southeast Asia, it is also planning to “invest aggressively in terms of marketing, subsidies, etc.”
“From a competitive standpoint, we think we can improve,” Khosrowshahi reportedly said. “We will look at anything… But right now the plan for Southeast Asia is to go forward, lean forward and to invest.”
On the local front, LTFRB board member Atty. Aileen Lizada shared that Gonzalez relayed the same information to her as well.
If ever Grab does acquire Uber’s Southeast Asian operations, there should be no problem with the latter’s drivers and peer operators moving to the former since, as stated by Lizada in a statement, ” CPCs (Certificate of Public Convenience) now are generic (and) no longer exclusive to any TNC (transport network company).”