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Singapore issues fines on Grab and Uber

By Sheetal Sukhija, Pakistan News
24 Sep 2018, 23:57 GMT+10

SINGAPORE - In what came as the strongest censure by a regulator since Uber Technologies sold its Southeast Asian business to the bigger regional rival Grab earlier this year, Singapore has slapped the ride-hailing firms with fines.

In March this year, Uber sold its Southeast Asian business to the Singapore-based firm Grab in exchange for a 27.5 percent stake in the company.

Now, the Competition and Consumer Commission of Singapore has slapped a combined fine of $9.5 million (S$13 million) on the two firms - with Uber being fined S$6.6 million and Grab S$6.4 million.

Further, Singapore's anti-trust watchdog has has concluded that the March merger has driven up prices, which led it to finalize restrictions to open up the market to competitors. 

The regulator pointed out that effective fares on Grab rose 10 to 15 percent following the deal.

It said that Grab now holds a Singapore market share of around 80 percent.

While the fines slapped on the ride-hailing firms is small compared to their multi-billion dollar valuations, the other measures imposed by the anti-trust watchdog in Singapore is the strongest censure yet since the deal was announced. 

In its statement, the Competition and Consumer Commission said it would require that Grab drivers not be tied to Grab exclusively.

Further, Grab’s exclusivity arrangements with any taxi fleets would now be removed.

Meanwhile, it said that Uber will be required to sell its car rental business to any rival that makes a reasonable offer.

Uber will also not be allowed to sell those vehicles to Grab without the watchdog’s permission. 

Responding to the fines and censures, Grab said that it completed the deal within its legal rights.

The company argued that it did not intentionally or negligently breach competition laws and agreed to abide by remedies set out by the regulator

Meanwhile, Uber said that believed the decision was based on an “inappropriately narrow definition of the market.”

The company has indicated that it would consider appealing the ruling.

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