PCC aims to complete Grab-Uber review by May

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GRAB Holdings, Inc. has faced regulatory roadblocks in its acquisition of Uber’s assets in Southeast Asia. — REUTERS

By Janina C. Lim, Reporter

THE Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) is looking to complete its review of Grab Philippines’ acquisition of Uber Philippines as early as next month, an official said, noting a prolonged review process may make it difficult to undo the partially consummated deal.

PCC Commissioner Johannes Benjamin R. Bernabe said in a phone interview they are now in the process of securing all the necessary documents from the ride-hailing firms, including their compliance or non-compliance with the interim measures imposed by the competition watchdog.

Mr. Bernabe said the PCC’s review of the Grab-Uber deal may only take about 30 days to complete, instead of the original estimates it would take between 75 days to six months.

The PCC earlier this month 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.”

The PCC had directed Uber to continue its operations, independent of Grab Philippines during the review period. However, Uber shuttered its app in the Philippines on April 15.

Mr. Bernabe noted Grab and Uber have already taken steps to consummate the deal, since they claimed it falls below the PCC’s notifiable threshold.

Under PCC guidelines, mandatory notification is required for all merger and acquisitions (M&A) with a transaction size of P2 billion and size of person of P5 billion.

Mr. Bernabe said the PCC would rather have the results of the review “sooner than later” since it would be difficult to dissolve the deal which have been partially consummated.

“The parties think that they did not need to notify so they consummated right away,” Mr. Bernabe said. “If we take more time, then it will be more difficult to unscramble if that is what is necessary or required.”

Under the law, the PCC can prohibit the consummation of mergers and acquisitions that will substantially prevent, restrict, or lessen competition in the relevant market.

Mr. Bernabe explained that while the PCC has the authority to dissolve the deal, it can also propose remedial measures or mitigating actions from Grab and Uber to prevent negative effects on market competition that may arise from the deal.