Singapore’s anti-trust watchdog, the Competition and Consumer Commission of Singapore (CCCS) has slapped ride-hailing firms Grab and Uber with a combined fine of US$9.5 million (RM39.3 million) over their merger deal, and ordered Uber to sell vehicles from its local leasing business to any rival that makes a reasonable offer.

According to Reuters, the CCCS launched an investigation into the Uber-Grab merger just days after the deal was done. Earlier in March, Uber sold its Southeast Asian business to Grab. As part of the acquisition, Uber took a chunky 27.5% stake in the Singapore-based firm, and Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi joined Grab’s board.

The CCCS stated that the merger substantially reduced competition in the market, and subsequently fined Uber US$4.8 million (RM19.9 million) and Grab US$4.7 million (RM19.4 million) to deter future completed, irreversible mergers that harm competition. The regulator also ordered Grab to remove its exclusivity arrangements with drivers and taxi fleets.

CCCS chief executive Toh Han Li said “mergers that substantially lessen competition are prohibited and CCCS has taken action against the Grab-Uber merger because it removed Grab’s closest rival, to the detriment of Singapore drivers and riders.” The CCCS has also finalised several measures to lessen the impact of the transaction on drivers and riders, and open up the market for new players.

After the merger, CCCS said Grab fares rose between 10 to 15%, and the ride-hailing giant now holds a Singapore market share of around 80%. The regulator told Grab to maintain its pre-merger pricing algorithm and driver commission rates.

It also ordered Uber to sell vehicles of its Singapore-based Lion City Rentals to any potential competitor who makes a reasonable offer based on fair-market value, and prohibited Uber from selling those vehicles to Grab without regulatory approval. Lion City’s fleet totalled 14,000 vehicles as of December 2017.

Meanwhile, Uber is considering an appeal because it believes that the CCCS’ decision was based on an “inappropriately narrow definition of the market, and that it incorrectly describes the dynamic nature of the industry, among other concerns.”

Grab added that the merger was within its legal rights and maintained it did not intentionally or negligently breach competition laws. Furthermore, Grab also said it had not raised fares since the deal, and demanded that all transport players, including taxi operators, should also be subjected to non-exclusivity conditions for its (Grab) drivers to have full maximum choice. Grab has agreed to abide by remedies set out by the CCCS.

In Malaysia, the former government said the merger will not affect the local e-hailing scene, but added that it would take action if there are any wrongdoings, such as complaints on fare hikes. What do you think? Have you experienced a rise in Grab fares in the past few months? Sound off, below.