Uber to sell South-east Asian operations to Grab

Ride-hailing firm Uber Technologies has agreed to sell its South-east Asian business to the region's bigger rival Grab, a source with direct knowledge of the matter said yesterday, in what would be the US company's second retreat from Asia.

As part of the transaction, Uber would get a stake of as much as 30 per cent in the combined business, the source said. He did not want to be identified as the deal is not public yet, reported Reuters.

A multi-billion dollar investment in Uber earlier this year by Japan's SoftBank Group, already one of Grab's main investors, had stoked expectations that Uber would consolidate its South-east Asian business with Grab.

The source said Uber and Grab are expected to announce the deal as early as today. Uber declined comment and Grab was not immediately available for a comment, Reuters reported.

The deal marks Uber's operational exit from yet another major market and hands a victory to Grab as it battles competitor Go-Jek, reported Bloomberg.

SoftBank as well as China's Didi Chuxing, wanted consolidation. They see it as a way to improve the profitability in a business losing billions.

New entrants and the strength of second-place regional players such as Lyft Inc in the US has complicated those efforts, Bloomberg reported.

Mr Travis Kalanick, Uber's former chief executive officer, sold Uber's business in China in 2016 in return for a 17.5 per cent stake in Chinese ride-hailing leader Didi Chuxing.

Then Uber agreed to sell its Russian business to Yandex - just before after Mr Dara Khosrowshahi took over as chief executive.