Another retreat for Uber as it sells Southeast Asian biz to Grab

By : |March 26, 2018 0

Uber has agreed to sell its Southeast Asia business to Singapore-based regional rival Grab, marking another retreat for the US company from international operations.

Under the agreement, Grab will acquire all of Uber’s operations in a region of 620 million people, including food delivery service UberEats. The US ride-hailing behemoth in return gets a 27.5 percent stake in Grab and its chief executive officer will join the board of the Singapore-based company.

Grab said it will expand its food delivery business GrabFood — that’s already available in Indonesia and Thailand — to Singapore and Malaysia after merging with Uber Eats. Uber’s app will run for two weeks to give existing drivers time to move onto the Grab platform, while the Uber Eats app will continue till end of May.

This is the third time Uber has either sold or merged business with local player. It previously sold its China business to ride-hailing rival Didi Chuxing and merged its operations in Russia and neighboring countries with local tech company Yandex.

Uber’s chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi said this was “a testament to Uber’s exceptional growth across South East Asia over the last five years”. “It will help us double down on our plans for growth as we invest heavily in our products and technology to create the best customer experience on the planet.”

Grab’s chief executive Anthony Tan said the acquisition “marks the beginning of a new era”. “The combined business is the leader in platform and cost efficiency in the region. Together with Uber, we are now in an even better position to fulfil our promise to outserve our customers.”

Earlier this year, SoftBank completed its long-awaited investment agreement with Uber, making the Japanese tech giant the firm’s largest shareholder. That led to speculations about consolidation in the Asian ride-hailing industry since SoftBank also has investments in Grab, Didi Chuxing and India’s Ola.

Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi has been pushing to bolster the financials of a company that’s burned through $10.7 billion since its founding nine years ago. Pulling out of Southeast Asia also cuts back on losses for the company ahead of its planned initial public offering in 2019.

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