Uber Germany retreats to Berlin, Munich

The logo of car-sharing service app Uber on a smartphone over a reserved lane for taxis in a street is seen in this photo illustration taken in Madrid on December 10, 2014. REUTERS/Sergio Perez

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Taxi-hailing service Uber Technologies is making a retreat in Germany to the cities of Berlin and Munich as it grapples with a ban from using unlicensed cab drivers.

Uber will for now suspend services in Hamburg, Frankfurt and Duesseldorf, it said in a statement on Friday, citing a difficult regulatory environment.

A German court in March banned Uber from running services using unlicensed cab drivers and set stiff fines for any violations of local transport laws by the pioneering online taxi firm.

The company in Germany has since limited itself to drivers that hold a passenger transport license, among other legal requirements, through its UberX and UberBlack smartphone apps, but it has run into a shortage of suppliers of ride services.

“For many prospective Uber partners the process of registering an independent rental car enterprise has proved as too costly and time consuming,” Uber said in a statement.

It added it would improve its services in the two remaining German cities and “intensify the dialogue” with law makers and authorities, saying Germany remained one of its most important global markets.

Venture-backed Uber, which in July was reported to be valued at nearly $51 billion, has seen its UberPOP service, which relies on non-professional drivers, outlawed in France, Italy, Spain, Belgium and Germany.

Reporting by Ludwig Burger, editing by William Hardy