Uber set to announce sale of S-E Asia business to Grab

The agreement gives Uber a stake of between 25 per cent and 30 per cent in the new combined business.
The agreement gives Uber a stake of between 25 per cent and 30 per cent in the new combined business. PHOTO: AFP

SAN FRANCISCO/SINGAPORE • Uber Technologies has reached an agreement to sell its South-east Asian ride-hailing business to rival Grab and could announce the deal as early as today in Singapore, people familiar with the matter said.

The agreement – which includes all of Uber’s operations in South-east Asia as well as Uber Eats in the region – gives Uber a stake of between 25 per cent and 30 per cent in the new combined business, the people said, asking not to be identified ahead of an official announcement.

The deal, which Bloomberg outlined earlier this month, marks Uber’s operational exit from yet another major market and hands a victory to Grab as it battles local competitor Go-Jek in Indonesia.

SoftBank Group, a major backer of Grab and Uber as well as China’s Didi Chuxing, has pushed consolidation to improve the profitability of a global ride-hailing business that bleeds billions of dollars a year.

New entrants and the strength of second-place regional players such as Lyft in the United States have complicated those efforts.

Representatives of Grab and Uber declined to comment.

 
  • 86m Number of mobile app downloads for Grab, which currently offers services in more than 190 cities.

The deal represents another major retreat from international markets for Uber.

Mr Travis Kalanick, Uber’s former chief executive officer, sold Uber’s business in China in 2016 in return for a 17.5 per cent stake in Chinese ride-hailing leader Didi Chuxing.

Then, Uber agreed to sell its Russian business to Yandex – just before Mr Dara Khosrowshahi took over as chief executive.
Mr Khosrowshahi has been pushing to clean up the company’s financials in preparations for an initial public offering next year.

Pulling out of markets like South-east Asia would boost profits at a company that has burned through US$10.7 billion (S$14.1 billion) since its founding nine years ago.

Mr Khosrowshahi signalled during a trip through Asia last month that he is committed to key markets such as Japan and India.

Grab, which has more than 86 million mobile app downloads, currently offers services in more than 190 cities across Singapore, Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Myanmar and Cambodia.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 26, 2018, with the headline 'Uber set to announce sale of S-E Asia business to Grab'. Print Edition | Subscribe