Grab MY defends Uber acquisition following MyCC's deeper anti-competition probe

Ridehailing firm Grab Malaysia said in a statement to A+M that commuters in Malaysia continue to have "choice" in transport options. This comes after multiple media such as Bloomberg and ST, reported that Malaysia Competition Commission (MyCC) CEO Iskandar Ismail has committed to step up anti-competition probe over its acquisition of Uber.

In response to the concerns, a company spokesperson explained that Malaysians can choose to travel to their destinations through public transport, street-hail taxis or more than 30 other licensed e-hailing apps currently. Additionally, Grab has "fully cooperated" with MyCC in its request for information, but has "not been made aware of any breach of competition laws".

"Grab proceeded with the Uber acquisition in the good faith belief that the acquisition will create more efficiencies and benefits for the public in the e-hailing sector," added the spokesperson. Grab, according to her, plays a "complementary role in the entire public transportation ecosystem" in Malaysia, most often serving the first-mile-last-mile needs of commuters to and from public transit.

The government first announced its investigation last July after receiving numerous complaints on Grab raising its fares since the merger. Grab had previously said the acquisition, which took place in March 2018, aims t0 “improve and elevate” the standards of local land public transportation infrastructure and services.

Across the border, the Competition and Consumer Commission of Singapore (CCCS) fined Grab and Uber a total of SG$13 million in September 2018 over the two firms’ merger which led to a “substantial lessening of competition” in Singapore. Grab was fined SG$6.42 million while Uber was fined SG$6.58 million.

Prior to that, CCCS concluded its investigations on the Grab-Uber sale, issuing directions to lessen the impact of the deal on drivers and riders, and to open up the market and level the playing field. It proposed the removal of Grab’s exclusivity arrangement with any taxi or chauffeured private hire car fleet in Singapore. It also proposed the removal of exclusivity obligations, lock-in periods or termination fees on all drivers who drive on Grab’s platform, or rent from Grab Rentals, Lion City Rentals or rental partners of Grab. Other proposed remedies also include the maintenance of Grab’s pre-transaction pricing algorithm and driver commission rates until competition is revived in the market, as well as requiring Uber to sell Lion City Rentals to any competitor that makes a reasonable offer.

However, soon after the proposed measures, Grab called CCCS  “one-sided” for allowing  new entrants to maintain or sign exclusivity arrangements with drivers, private hire rental fleet and taxi operators “without restrictions”.