Uber to pull out of Macau next month, say media reports

MACAU • Global ride-hailing giant Uber Technologies will pull out of gambling hub Macau on Sept 9, less than 10 months after it was launched there, Macau media reported, citing a letter they said was sent by Uber's Asia regional chief.

According to a copy of the letter uploaded onto Macau legislator Au Kam San's official Facebook account, Uber's Asia Regional general manager Mike Brown said the firm planned to exit the small China-ruled city, adding that its drivers have been fined a total of 10 million patacas (S$1.7 million) in the short time in which it has operated in Macau.

Uber's Macau general manager Trasy Lou Walsh declined to comment specifically on the letter or to clarify whether the firm would pull out of Macau next month.

"We are committed to continuing to serve the riders and drivers of Macau. We continue to seek opportunities to work with the government on modern ride-sharing regulations that will give us the chance to keep serving the people of Macau," she said in a statement.

Uber has around 2,000 full-time and part-time drivers in the territory, Macau's news agency Teledifusao de Macau reported, saying drivers had been notified of the impending halt in operations.

While Macau, with just 600,000 people, is not a large market, Uber's exit would be another blow for the fast-growing US start-up's ambitions in the region.

In China earlier this month, following a costly two-year battle to break into the potentially lucrative market, Uber sold its operations to bigger local rival Didi Chuxing in a deal that will give Uber a one-fifth stake in Didi.

Yesterday, Uber's head of finance Gautam Gupta told investors that the company's losses mounted in the second quarter.

Sources said the losses significantly exceeded US$750 million (S$1 billion), including an estimated US$100 million shortfall in the United States.

That, combined with a first-quarter loss of about US$520 million before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation, meant that the company's losses in the first half of the year totalled at least US$1.27 billion.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 26, 2016, with the headline 'Uber to pull out of Macau next month, say media reports'. Print Edition | Subscribe