Singapore fines Grab and Uber following controversial merger

Citing lawyers Grab noted that under current laws there is no obligation for it to inform the Competition and Consumer Commission of Singapore of the merger though it did

The commission fined both firms a total SGD$13 million ($9.5 million) - SGD$6.42 million for Grab and SGD$6.58 million for Uber - "to deter completed, irreversible mergers that harm competition".

The Competition and Consumer Commission of Singapore (CCCS) has fined Uber S$6.6 million and Grab S$6.4 million, it said on Monday.

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.

The competition authority added that it has found that Grab had increased ride-hailing prices by 10 to 15 per cent after Uber's exit from Singapore; and that potential competitors such as Ryde were hampered by exclusivities and could not scale to compete effectively against Grab.

CCCS also "directed both parties to lessen the impact of the transaction on drivers and riders, and to open up the market and level the playing field for new players".

We have been working with the Competition and Consumer Commission of Singapore (CCCS) during its review over the past few months. "Companies can continue to innovate in this market, through means other than anti-competitive mergers", said CCCS chief executive Toh Han Li.

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Uber will also be required to sell its auto 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.

However, the company agreed to abide by the penalties and remedies issued by the competition watchdog, including the removal of exclusivity arrangements. This not only would prevent the company from selling these vehicles to Grab without CCCS's prior approval, but also from hoarding and inhibiting access to them.

As for whether it will appeal the decision, Grab told CNET in an email, "We will review the CCCS' final decision in detail before making a decision". It proposed the removal of Grab's exclusivity arrangement with any taxi or chauffeured private hire auto fleet in Singapore.

Grab completed the Transaction within its legal rights, and still maintains we did not intentionally or negligently breach competition laws. For drivers to have full maximum choice, all transport players, including taxi operators, should also be subjected to nonexclusivity conditions. This, though, then should apply to all market players, it noted.

Pointing to the Land Transport Authority, it noted that the country's regulatory framework pertaining to point-to-point transport now was under review and it hoped this meant the non-exclusivity issue would be addressed.

Grab is committed to fair pricing and has not raised fares since the Transaction.

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