Philippine Competition Commission reviews Grab-Uber merger

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 3) — The Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) is conducting a review of the merger between ride-hailing apps Grab and Uber, as it is seen to affect partner drivers and commuters.

On Tuesday, the anti-trust body opened the motu proprio review, a look into the merger without the need to notify Grab and Uber.

The PCC is mandated under the Philippine Competition Act to review mergers, acquisitions, and joint ventures of firms across all sectors.

PCC said, based on its preliminary assessment of Grab's acquisition of Uber's Southeast Asia operations, it saw that there are "reasonable grounds that the said acquisition may likely  substantially lessen, prevent, or restrict competition."

In the resolution it released, PCC said the riding public and Uber driver may be affected by the transaction.

"The Commission also found that the transaction will result in a substantial increase in concentration of an already highly-concentrated market in an industry that provides a basic public service," it said in a statement.

The PCC earlier said it sees a "virtual monopoly" in the Grab-Uber merger.

"PCC recognizes that the exit of Uber in the Philippines will put its rival Grab in virtual monopoly in the ride-sharing market until the new players come into operation," the anti-trust body said in a statement Tuesday.

PCC Commissioner Stella Quimbo said the firm's "very high market shares" exceeding 80 percent following the merger triggered the assessment.



"Nothing in the law prohibits monopoly. What we're really looking at are the outcomes. But of course, if the market share is very big, then that might signal a possible loss of competition," Quimbo told CNN Philippines' News Night on Tuesday.



She added the body will also provide a "more systematic, more expansive, more rigorous assessment of price changes, if any."



Quimbo said the PCC will impose interim measures while the assessment is ongoing. The anti-trust body has also issued Grab a notice on Tuesday.



Grab said it will submit its comment on the assessment by Thursday, where a public hearing on the matter will also be held.



Quimbo said the first phase of the review can take up to 75 days, with the second phase taking up to 125 days. She said, however, the PCC wants to finish the assessment as soon as possible.

The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) on March 28 said there will be no monopoly with Grab because three Transport Network Companies (TNCs) are applying for accreditation. But the TNCs are still complying with the requirements and it may take months before they could operate.

Uber is set to transition services over to Grab on April 8, following the sale of its business to its local rival in March.