Malaysia yesterday said it plans to monitor ride-hailing firm Grab for possible anti-competitive behavior, after rival Uber Technologies Inc offloaded its Southeast Asian operations to the Singapore-based firm.
Uber’s deal to take a 27.5 percent stake in Grab in exchange has raised a red flag with Singapore’s competition watchdog, which said on Friday that it was investigating a suspected breach of competition law.
Malaysia’s Competition Commission would keep tabs on Grab, especially if the company imposed unfair practices or sudden fare increases, a government minister said.
“We won’t take it lightly. We will monitor this because it is still early days and we don’t know what will happen next,” said Nancy Shukri, whose portfolio oversees the public transport licensing authority.
“We have stressed that if there is any anti-competitive behavior, the Competition Act will come into force. We have spelled this out to them,” Shukri said, referring to a meeting with Grab representatives on Monday last week.
Uber and Grab on Monday last week announced the deal, marking the US company’s second retreat from an Asian market. It earlier sold off its operations in China.
Shukri said that Grab, which is valued at about US$6 billion, had offered assurances during their meeting on Monday last week that there would be no unfair pricing, and that it would not increase its fares for now.
However, the merger did not change the government’s working relationship with Grab in converting more than 67,000 conventional taxi drivers nationwide to e-hailing platforms, she said.
Nearly 14,000 taxi drivers have now either partially or fully migrated to e-hailing platforms, and the government is to continue working with Grab to convince more to do the same.
“This is in the interest of the taxi industry, which has been around for a long time. At the same time, Grab needs our support, and we are there to assist them as well,” Shukri said.
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