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

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

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.

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)