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Grab, Uber oppose PCC’s proposed interim measures

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A ComfortDelgro taxi passes Uber and Grab offices in Singapore March 26, 2018. — REUTERS

GRAB Holdings, Inc. and Uber Systems, Inc. rejected the Philippine Competition Commission’s (PCC) proposed interim measures which are aimed at ensuring competition in the local ride-sharing market.

“Based on the comments [of both parties], we will further deliberate the interim measures then we will issue the order,” PCC Chairman Arsenio M. Balisacan said after a two-hour public hearing on Grab’s acquisition of Uber’s Southeast Asian business.

Among interim measures being proposed by the PCC include requiring ride-hailing apps to operate independently pending the conclusion of the PCC review; refraining from sharing confidential information; refraining from imposing exclusivity clauses, lock-in periods or termination fees on Uber drivers seeking to join Grab.

The PCC also directed Grab and Uber to refrain from taking further steps that will reduce viability and saleability of either company and from taking any actions that will prejudice the review.

The competition watchdog has started a motu proprio investigation into Grab’s acquisition of the Southeast Asian businesses of rival Uber, saying it believes the deal “may likely substantially lessen, prevent, or restrict competition.”

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However, Grab and Uber do not agree with the PCC that such interim measures are needed, and denied the deal reduces competition in the local market, saying consumers can still choose other forms of transportation such as private vehicles, jeepneys, buses and taxis.

“Interim measures are not necessary because the concerns are not real in this case,” said Arlene M. Maneja, one of Grab’s legal representatives.

“The perception that there is high concentration in the relevant market will not be accurate because the market is far bigger,” Ms. Maneja added, noting the companies make up a “small” part of transportation industry which includes jeepneys, tricycles, among others.

She further noted the existing government regulations do not hinder the entry of other transport network vehicle service (TNVS) players.

“The anti-competitive concern will be low because there are very low barriers of entry [for other ride-hailing apps],” Ms. Maneja added.

Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) Board Member Aileen A. Lizada said TNVS applicants only need to submit an audited financial statement, business permit, and an established system to receive complaints. Applications can be processed in two weeks. — Janina C. Lim

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