Uber sells to Grab: A look back at the brand's SEA ads

Anna Jefferson
March 27, 2018

Uber said it will sell its business in Southeast Asia to a local competitor, Grab, the ride-hailing company announced late Sunday, in a deal that experts say is created to position Uber for an initial public offering next year.

A few months back, Uber sold its China business to ride-sharing rival Didi Chuxing and merged its operations in Russian Federation and neighboring countries with local tech company Yandex. "We're excited to take this step with Anthony and his entire team at Grab, and look forward to Grab's future in Southeast Asia".

Uber is a company in trouble. Uber will receive a 27.5 percent stake in Singapore-based Grab, and chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi will join Grab's board, the companies said.

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The value of the deal has not been made public.

"This deal is a testament to Uber's exceptional growth across Southeast Asia over the last five years". "Our combined platform with Uber is the leader in cost efficiency, and we now have a path to profitability in the transport vertical", Grab's spokesperson said. SoftBank has also invested in Uber rivals Didi Chuxing, Grab and India's Ola. Softbank is believed to have pushed for consolidation in order to improve revenues and Uber is widely expected to IPO in 2019, so no doubt are working hard to ensure their IPO prospectus is more attractive reading. "Your efforts to bring the benefits of ridesharing to millions of people across Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and Myanmar have changed lives and transformed cities for the better - and this transaction doesn't change that history".

Although the deal will change Asia's complex and competitive ride-hailing industry landscape, the question remains on whether Grab can achieve growth. Whether this is ride-hailing, food delivery or e-commerce, the billions poured in by investors are aimed at ousting other competitors and gaining a monopolistic position.

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Aside from food and ride-hailing, Grab is also launching financial and payment products, such as micro loans, insurance, and payment services to "underserved and unbanked consumers" in the region.

"It was really a very independent decision by both companies", Grab President Ming Maa told Reuters, adding that SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son was "highly supportive".

In such shaky close scenarios is Uber losing $4.5 billion in 2017, fierce competition at home as well as in Asia, and suffering a regulatory crackdown in Europe.

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