Malaysia reviews monopoly risk in ride-hailing market after Grab-Uber deal

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Malaysia is studying monopoly risk in the ride-hailing market in the country triggered by the merger of Grab and Uber, and is bringing the service under some existing regulations, the transport ministry said on Wednesday.

FILE PHOTO: A ComfortDelgro taxi passes Uber and Grab offices in Singapore March 26, 2018. REUTERS/Edgar Su/File Photo

Uber Technologies Inc [UBER.UL] sold its Southeast Asian business to bigger regional rival Grab in March in exchange for a stake in the Singapore-based firm.

The ministry said the land public transport agency received many complaints on Grab raising fares since the merger. Grab has become the region’s sole dominant ride-hailing player.

Last week, Singapore’s anti-trust body proposed fines on Grab and Uber, provisionally finding that their merger had reduced competition, and suggesting remedies such as the sale of their car-leasing businesses.

Malaysia’s ride-hailing services will be regulated from Thursday, bringing them under the same regulation that the taxi industry is subjected to, transport minister Anthony Loke said in a press briefing.

“What is imposed on taxi drivers will also be imposed on e-hailing drivers, to get that driver’s card,” he told reporters, referring to health check-ups, car inspection and permits.

Ride-hailing drivers are given a one-year moratorium to fulfill the requirements.

“We know this is not a measure that will please all parties but we take a more balanced approach that can regulate e-hailing and create a level-playing field of competition among e-hailing and taxi drivers,” Loke said.

The monopoly review will be conducted by the Malaysia Competition Commission, the ministry said in a statement.

Grab representatives were not immediately available to comment on the matter.

Reporting by Liz Lee; Writing by A. Ananthalakshmi; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier