Watchdog probes Grab's Uber buy

HANOI (Viet Nam News/ANN) - The authorities suspects the deal of breaching competition law.

Vietnam Competition Authority (VCA), under the Ministry of Industry and Trade, has decided to conduct a preliminary investigation into Grab’s purchase of Uber’s stakes in Vietnam.

The acquisition is suspected to breach regulations on economic concentration under the country’s Law on Competition 2004.

The investigation will span 30 days, starting from the day the decision was issued last week.

Following Grab’s announcement on March 26 about its purchase of Uber’s operations in Southeast Asia, including Vietnam, VCA sent a dispatch to GrabTaxi requesting information and documents related to the acquisition.

However, GrabTaxi claimed since the combined market share of both Grab and Uber in Vietnam was less than 30 per cent, it did not have to “inform the competition authority before proceeding and completing this transaction in Vietnam”.

VCA then held a working session with GrabTaxi’s legal representative on April 6, but the firm failed to provide evidence proving its claim.

VCA urged the company to carefully assess the market share after acquisition to ensure compliance with regulations on economic concentration under the competition law before conducting transactions in Vietnam.

Meanwhile, an Uber representative, who met VCA on April 12, said the company had officially stopped operations and closed all offices in Vietnam from 11.59pm on April 8, which meant the transaction between Grab and Uber was already complete in the country.

Grab is one of the most frequently used O2O (online-to-offline) mobile platforms across 195 cities in Southeast Asia. More than five million people use the combined platform daily.

Vietnam is not the only country where Grab is currently under fire. Other Southeast Asian countries, such as the Philippines, Singapore and Malaysia, are all requesting a detailed explanation of the company’s acquisition of Uber fearing Grab’s monopoly in the market.