Viet­nam mulls launch­ing an­titrust in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Uber-Grab deal

Manila Bulletin - - Shipping Bulletin -

HANOI (Reuters) – Viet­nam's trade min­istry said on Wed­nes­day it is con­sid­er­ing launch­ing a for­mal in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the takeover of Uber Tech­nolo­gies' South­east Asia busi­ness by ri­val Grab af­ter an ini­tial probe showed the deal would vi­o­late an­titrust law.

The min­istry had said last month the trans­ac­tion might be blocked if Uber and Grab's com­bined mar­ket share in Viet­nam is over 50 per­cent, as per the na­tion's law.

"Pre­lim­i­nary in­ves­ti­ga­tion re­sults showed the eco­nomic con­cen­tra­tion be­tween Grab and Uber in the Viet­nam mar­ket has a com­bined mar­ket share of over 50 per­cent," the min­istry said in an state­ment on its web­site.

It said af­ter work­ing with the firms, as­so­ci­a­tions and re­lated gov­ern­ment au­thor­i­ties, it has found the deal showed "signs of vi­o­la­tions on eco­nomic con­cen­tra­tion."

The min­istry did not say by when it will de­cide whether to launch a for­mal probe or not.

Uber and Grab an­nounced a deal in March un­der which Uber will take a 27.5 per­cent stake in Grab in ex­change for its South­east Asian busi­ness.

The US com­pany had pre­vi­ously sold op­er­a­tions in China and Rus­sia to lo­cal ri­vals.

Viet­nam's move ex­pands scru­tiny on the deal, which is al­ready be­ing ex­am­ined for an­titrust is­sues by Sin­ga­pore, Malaysia, and the Philip­pines.

It is un­clear how the deal will be im­pacted if Viet­nam or any of the other coun­tries ul­ti­mately con­clude the deal hurts com­pe­ti­tion.

But while ris­ing reg­u­la­tory scru­tiny could com­pli­cate the takeover, lawyers and an­a­lysts said there is lit­tle the au­thor­i­ties can do to stop Uber from sim­ply ex­it­ing the re­gion.

Uber and Grab did not im­me­di­ately re­spond to Reuters re­quests for com­ments.

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