Singapore’s ComfortDelGro says $220m Uber deal is off

Photo: Bloomberg

ComfortDelGro, Singapore’s largest taxi operator, and ride-hailing giant Uber have mutually agreed to dissolve a deal that involved the former buying 51 per cent of the latter’s car rental unit in Singapore.

Both companies entered into the agreement in December last year, with ComfortDelGro agreeing to pay S$295 million ($220 million) for the stake in Uber subsidiary Lion City Holdings Pte Ltd. However, Uber’s decision to sell its Southeast Asia business to rival Grab only a month later cast some uncertainty over the deal.

Following Uber’s exit from the region, Comfort had reportedly told its taxi drivers to delete the Uber app on their phones. However, in February, the company said in an SGX filing that it remained committed to the partnership with Uber.

Commenting on the decision to officially pull out of the deal with Uber, ComfortDelGro managing director and group CEO Yang Ban Seng said in an official statement that the move was made due to the change in operating environment following Uber’s exit, which made the partnership “no longer relevant”.

He added, however, that the company, which has a total fleet size of about 41,500 buses, taxis and rental vehicles, was still keen on entering the ride-hailing space through other means.

“Nevertheless, the Group still has every intention to go into the private hire vehicle space as we see the increasing convergence of private hire vehicles and taxis in the personalised mobility market,” Seng said.

ComfortDelGro did not immediately respond to questions by DEALSTREETASIA about its plans in the private hire space, but it is believed that a collaboration with an existing ride-hailing player could be on the cards.

According to The Straits Times, Grab has said that it will reach out to ComfortDelGro for possible partnerships, while TechCrunch had earlier reported that the Singapore firm has also held talks with Indonesian ride-hailing giant Go-Jek for a potential collaboration.

After months of speculation about its expansion plans, Go-Jek has recently confirmed Singapore as one of its target markets, along with Vietnam, Thailand and the Philippines.

The arrival of Go-Jek will be warmly welcomed by Singapore, as regulators in the country have already expressed concerns about potential monopoly brought about as a result of the Grab-Uber deal.

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Go-Jek to invest $500m in expansion to four Southeast Asian countries

Singapore Reporter/s

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Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

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Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.