Singapore-based Grab announced an ambition to become Southeast Asia’s leading online-to-offline (O2O) mobile platform, following an acquisition of rival Uber’s business in the region.
The acquisition marks the exit of US-headquartered Uber from the region, where it established operations in Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. Grab said in a statement the deal involves Uber receiving a 27.5 per cent stake in the Singapore company and its CEO Dara Khosrowshahi joining Grab’s board.
Expanding its transportation business is a key part of Grab’s O2O strategy. The company said it will expand localised transport services, add new mobility solutions, and collaborate with governments and public transport operators in a bid to create seamless commuter services.
The company plans to expand its GrabFood service into Singapore and Malaysia (it is currently available in Indonesia and Thailand), and will integrate Uber Eats to give it coverage in all major Southeast Asian countries.
Grab also stated it will “continue to enhance and expand” its Grab Financial suite with services including mobile payments, micro-financing and insurance for “millions of underserved and umbanked consumers, micro-entrepreneurs and small businesses in the region”.
Anthony Tan, Grab CEO and co-founder, said customers’ trust in Grab “as a transport brand allows us to look towards the next step as a company: improving people’s lives through food, payments and financial services,” said.
The company said it is working to quickly migrate Uber drivers, customers, merchant partners and delivery partners to its platform. The Uber app will continue to operate for two weeks, and Uber Eats will run until end-May, after which Uber delivery and restaurant partners will move to the GrabFood platform.
The deal marks Uber’s second major retreat from Asia after merging its loss-making Chinese business with local rival Didi Chuxing in mid-2016.
In August 2017 Uber reported discussed teaming up with Singapore’s largest taxi company to help it compete against Grab. To overcome new regulations, Uber teamed up with Indonesia’s second largest taxi operator, Express, to launch a pilot car-booking programme in December 2016.
Khosrowshahi said the Grab deal will help Uber “double down on our plans for growth as we invest heavily in our products and technology to create the best customer experience on the planet.”