April 3, 2018 / 9:59 AM / 8 months ago

UPDATE 2-Philippine anti-trust agency starts review of Grab-Uber deal

* Competition body met with Grab officials on Monday

* Deal could hamper competition -anti-trust agency

* Riding public, drivers could be adversely affected (Adds Grab comment on Wednesday)

MANILA, April 3 (Reuters) - The Philippines' anti-trust agency on Tuesday started a review of Uber Technologies Inc's proposed sale of its money-losing Southeast Asian business to ride-hailing rival Grab, saying the deal could hurt competition.

Uber and Grab announced the deal a week ago, marking the U.S. company's second retreat from an Asian market. It earlier sold off its operations in China.

The Philippine review follows a similar move by Singapore's regulator which began its probe last week. Malaysia has also said it will look into whether the sale hinders competition. "There are reasonable grounds that the said acquisition may likely substantially lessen, prevent, or restrict competition," the Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) said in a statement.

The Commission also said, based on its initial assessment, the riding public and partner drivers may be adversely affected by the consequent impact on competition.

"We will prepare the necessary documents and share information required by the PCC, and will closely work with the Commission to address whatever questions and clarifications they may have," Grab Philippines said in a statement on Wednesday.

Grab also said it would support the transition of accredited Uber drivers onto its platform and adhere to regulatory guidelines on pricing.

Uber's Philippine operations will cease on April 8.

An Uber spokesman said any comments would be issued by Grab.

The Philippine transportation agency caps the number of ride-sharing vehicles at 65,000 across all brands and reviews the figure every three months.

Reporting by Neil Jerome Morales Additional reporting by Aradhana Aravindan Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman and Christopher Cushing

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