Saturday, 23 March, 2019

Ola, Uber revive merger talks

A Comfort Delgro taxi passes Uber and Grab offices in Singapore A Comfort Delgro taxi passes Uber and Grab offices in Singapore
Patty Aguilar | 29 March, 2018, 08:35

Uber is reportedly in talks to have its Indian unit merge with its local competitor, Ola Cabs, after their common stakeholder SoftBank sought to consolidate their respective markets in India. Uber will remain operational in the region until April 8, after which the services will then be taken over by Grab.

Rahm Shastry, one of the earliest investors in taxiforsure, which was eventually bought by Ola, said given that SoftBank is the largest investor in Ola as well, it simply doesn't make sense for the two to endlessly fight for market-share and lose money over customer discounts and driver incentives. However, the blueprint of the deal is yet to be worked out and could take several months, said this person.

Uber's decision to sell business to Grab was its first major move after SoftBank invested in it. Reuters. Apart from the aforementioned stakes, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi will join Grab's board, which was last valued at an estimated $6 billion.

If the merger happens, Ola will acquire Uber's operations in India.

When asked about the development, an Ola spokesperson said, "Ola is always actively looking for opportunities to expand its footprint". He said that India is among its top three markets after USA and Latin America and it accounts for 10 per cent of its global trips.

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A person aware of the matter confirmed that senior executives from Ola and Uber have met several times over the past several months.

The Japanese investor has been instrumental in Uber selling off its Southeast Asia unit to rival Grab. In 2015, Uber announced an investment of Dollars 1 billion in the country to expand its services. He had also added that Uber exiting unprofitable countries was not exclusively about cutting its losses but that growth prospects were more promising in its core markets.

Uber's decision to exit Southeast Asia, where it was bleeding money, should give the global ride-hailing giant more firepower to focus on India, where it's locked in a fierce battle with the local rival, Ola, industry analysts say. The Business Standard report states that pst the completion of that deal, Uber will control 27.5% stake in the combined entity.

In a show of commitment, Uber recently signed one of India's most expensive celebrities, Indian cricket team captain Virat Kohli, as its brand ambassador for five years.

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