Uber and Grab logos. Photos by Reuters, Grab
(SINGAPORE) – Ride-hailing firm Uber Technologies, Inc. has agreed to sell its Southeast Asian business to bigger regional rival Grab, a source with direct knowledge of the matter said on Sunday (Mar 25), in what would be the US company’s second retreat from Asia.
The deal, which could be announced as early as Monday, marks the first big consolidation in the industry in Southeast Asia, home to about 640 million people, and will put pressure on rivals such as Indonesia’s Go-Jek, backed by Alphabet Inc’s Google and China’s Tencent Holdings Ltd.
As part of the transaction, Uber would get a stake of as much as 30 per cent in the combined business, the source said. He did not want to be identified as the deal is not public yet.
Another source familiar with the deal said Uber would acquire a 25 per cent to 30 per cent stake in Grab, valuing the entire business at US$6 billion, the same valuation it commanded in its most recent capital raising.
Uber and Singapore-based Grab, Southeast Asia’s biggest ride-hailing firm, declined to comment.
A multi-billion dollar investment in Uber earlier this year by Japan’s SoftBank Group Corp, already one of Grab’s main investors, had stoked expectations that Uber would consolidate its Southeast Asian business with Grab.
Grab’s deal with Uber would be similar to the one struck in China in 2016, when Didi Chuxing bought out Uber’s China business and handed over a stake in return.
During a visit to India in February, Uber Chief Executive Dara Khosrowshahi had, however, pledged to continue investing aggressively in Southeast Asia, even as the company expected to lose money in the fast growing market.
Both Grab and Uber have raised billions of dollars from global investors to fund their expansion plans, as they offer heavy discounts and promotions to attract both riders and drivers.
Grab raised about US$2.5 billion last July from Didi, SoftBank and others in a deal valuing the company at around US$6 billion.
Bloomberg first reported the deal.