The Competition Commission of Singapore (CCS) suspects that Southeast Asia’s leading ride-hailing app Grab has infringed the country’s Competition Act by purchasing rival Uber’s Southeast Asian operations, it said in a statement.
The CCS began investigating the deal on March 27, and the outcome is yet to be determined. In the interim, it is proposing that both parties maintain their pre-transaction pricing, pricing policies, and product options. This is the first time that the Singapore body has issued such a notice following a merger.
The directive requests both parties to refrain from obtaining “any confidential information, including but not limited to information pertaining to pricing, formulas, customers, and drivers” from each other.
Finally, the proposal asks Grab to ensure that “Uber drivers joining its Grab’s ride-hailing platform of their own accord are not subject to any exclusivity clauses, lock-in periods and/or termination fees.”
The CCS will accept written submissions from both parties before deciding whether to implement the proposal. If issued, the directive will take effect immediately and last until the investigation is completed.
Concern from all quarters
Since the merger announcement, consumers worry that prices for Grab’s rides may rise. Some have also raised data privacy concerns after Uber sent a notice to its users that their data will be automatically transferred to Grab.
“I personally think Uber should be asking customers if they are OK with the data transfer or not. As I know they are not automatically porting my account over, so why should my Uber data be sent to Grab without my consent?” asked Michael Smith Jr., a partner at venture capital firm SeedPlus, on e27.
Lawyer Choo Zheng Xi believes Uber and Grab may have breached Singapore’s Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA) “by purporting to transfer Uber user data to Grab without users’ express consent.” Choo is a litigation lawyer and director at Singapore-based law firm Peter Low & Choo.
Tech in Asia has reached out to Grab for comment.
It’s not just consumers and the authorities in Singapore that are concerned. In Manila, the Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) has said that it is looking closely at the deal to determine if it is anti-competitive.
“We have to establish an analysis that the transaction could lead to a lessening of competition. If that’s the case and we tell the parties that information and if they don’t address concerns to our satisfaction, we will disallow the transaction,” PCC chairman Arsenio Balisacan told ABS-CBN News.
Grab has said that it will be meeting the PCC to address their concerns, the company told The Manila Times.
Follow our full coverage of the Uber-Grab deal here.
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