After weeks of speculation, Uber has concluded a deal that will see it sell its business in Southeast Asia to local rival Grab. The company plans to announce the agreement this coming week and potentially as soon as Monday, two sources have confirmed to TechCrunch.
Full details of the arrangement aren’t fully clear at this point, but TechCrunch understands that Singapore-based Grab will take over Uber’s ride-sharing in the eight markets in Southeast Asia where it is operational. It will also take ownership of Uber Eats, which is available in Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore. Bloomberg reported today that Uber will take 25-30 percent equity in Grab in exchange.
Both Uber and Grab declined to comment when contacted separately for comment.
The successful conclusion of negotiations comes less than two months after SoftBank, an early investor in Grab, secured a long-drawn-out deal to become an Uber shareholder.
SoftBank is thought to have favored consolidating Uber’s businesses in emerging markets, with Southeast Asia — a loss-making geography for all — one of its apparent targets. That’s despite significant growth potential as more of the regions 600 million consumers come online for the first time.
Revenue from taxi apps is said to have more than doubled over the past two years to cross $5 billion in 2017, according to a recent report co-authored by Google. The industry is expected to reach $20 billion by 2025, the same report found.
Uber previously exited China in 2016 after striking an equity exchange deal with Chinese market leader Didi. The U.S. firm also quit Russia last year after it sold its business in the country to local rival Yandex.
Unlike those two deals, however, Uber had held a decent position in Southeast Asia in recent times although it appeared to lose considerable market share last year. Issues inside Uber, including the resignation of founding CEO Travis Kalanick and investor squabbles, seemed to divert its attention away from Southeast Asia. All the while, Grab marched on and it notably refueled its tanks with over $2.5 billion in additional funding from investors.
Grab isn’t the only rival in Southeast Asia, however. Go-Jek leads the Indonesian market and it recently gained the backing of Google, JD.com and Tencent at a valuation of some $5 billion. Despite winning in Indonesia, Southeast Asia’s largest economy and the world’s fourth most populous country, Go-Jek is yet to venture overseas. This Uber-Grab consolidate certains gives it a good reason to expedite those plans.