Singapore imposes fines on Grab and Uber

SINGAPORE: Singapore slapped ride-hailing firms Grab and Uber with fines and finalised restrictions to open up the market to competitors after concluding that their merger in March has driven up prices.
Uber Technologies Inc [UBER.UL] sold its Southeast Asian business to bigger regional rival Grab in March in exchange for a 27.5 per cent stake in the Singapore-based firm.
While the combined S$13 million ($9.5 million) fine was small compared with the firms’ multi-billion dollar valuations, that and the other measures imposed by the Competition and Consumer Commission of Singapore on Monday represent the strongest censure by a regulator since the deal was unveiled.
The anti-trust watchdog said it would require that Grab drivers not be tied to Grab exclusively and that Grab’s exclusivity arrangements with any taxi fleets be removed.
Uber will also be required to sell its car rental business to any rival that makes a reasonable offer and will not be allowed to sell those vehicles to Grab without the watchdog’s permission. Fining Uber S$6.6 million and Grab S$6.4 million, the regulator said effective fares on Grab rose 10 to 15 per cent after the deal, and that the firm now holds a Singapore market share of around 80 per cent.
Uber said it believed the decision was based on an “inappropriately narrow definition of the market” and would consider appealing.
Grab said it completed the deal within its legal rights, and did not intentionally or negligently breach competition laws. It would abide by remedies set out by the regulator, it added.
Indonesia’s Go-Jek, which plans to launch services in Singapore, said it welcomed the regulator’s steps.
“We’re encouraged to see the measures being taken to level the playing field — it will have a significant effect on our strategy and timeline,” the company said.
Other new entrants to the market include Singapore-based Ryde.
Grab said it had not raised fares since the deal and argued that all transport firms, including taxi operators, should be subjected to non-exclusivity curbs. — Reuters