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Most commuters think Grab-Uber merger should be reviewed or rejected: Survey

SINGAPORE — Almost three quarters of commuters here feel that the Grab-Uber merger should be reviewed or rejected, according to a recent survey by independent research consultancy Blackbox Research.

Reuters file photo

Reuters file photo

SINGAPORE — Almost three quarters of commuters here feel that the Grab-Uber merger should be reviewed or rejected, according to a recent survey by independent research consultancy Blackbox Research.

The online survey was conducted between March 14 to 23 among a representative sample of 1,000 Singaporeans aged 15 and above. Its findings were released earlier this week.

Following weeks of speculation, Grab announced on March 26 that it has acquired Uber's operations in South-east Asia, including in Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, in the largest-ever deal of its kind in the region.

As part of the deal, Grab will be integrating Uber's ride-sharing and food delivery business into its existing platforms, and Uber will take a 27.5 per cent stake in Grab. Uber chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi will also join Grab's board.

The Blackbox survey found that 53 per cent of the respondents indicated that the merger should be reviewed, while 19 per cent said it should be rejected. In comparison, 13 per cent felt it should be allowed to go ahead, while the remaining said they do not know.

Nevertheless, more than half (55 per cent) said the merger will have no impact on them as consumers, while 26 per cent felt that it will be "good" or "very good" for them. The remaining said the impact of the merger on them will be "bad" or "very bad".

The survey also found that more than half of Singaporeans aged between 25 and 34 years old (54 per cent) use Grab or Uber at least once a week. This age group is also the most likely to feel that the merger will be bad for them as consumers, Blackbox said.

On Friday (March 30), the Competition Commission of Singapore (CCS) – which is reviewing the merger – announced that it has issued proposed Interim Measures Directions (IMD) to Grab and Uber on their merger to "preserve and/or restore competition and market conditions". The watchdog said it has "reasonable grounds for suspecting" that the deal is anti-competitive.

CCS' unprecedented move means that both parties will have to maintain their pre-transaction pricing, pricing policies and product options for "chauffeured personal point-to-point transport passenger and booking services" in Singapore.

Under the proposed IMD, Grab and Uber will not be able to obtain any confidential information from the other party, including information related to pricing, formulas, customers and drivers, said the commission. Grab will also ensure that Uber drivers joining Grab's ride-hailing platform of their own accord are not subject to any exclusivity clauses, lock-in periods and/or termination fees.

Writing on the company' blog, Grab Singapore head Lim Kell Jay said on Thursday it is a "myth" that the merger is "bad for passengers and drivers" and there will be "no more competition".

Reiterating that competition exists, Mr Lim noted recent announcements – including by homegrown car-pooling app Ryde – of new entrants into the ride-hailing industry in Singapore and elsewhere in the region.

"And that's just in ride-hailing," he said. "Passengers continue to have many other transport choices. They can book taxis via taxi apps, take street-hail taxis, car-pool, take public trains and buses, anything."

He added: "More importantly, it's never just about competition. We have a bigger vision for how we can build a more efficient transport system to serve you better."

Mr Lim also announced that Uber drivers who were banned by Grab will be "allowed back on our platform after a careful review process, and on a case-by-case basis".

While the firm wants to "help all interested driver-partners earn an income through our platform", it "absolutely cannot" have unsafe drivers who could potentially pose harm to passengers, Mr Lim said. "All driver-partners will be given a chance to re-join… other than those who have previously displayed serious behavioural issues such as harassment and violence."


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