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One star rating: The Singapore Regulatory Authority identifies the handling of gripper/perfusion mergers
The Singapore Consumer and Anti-Competitive Commission (CCCS) notified on July 5, 2018 that it had adopted a planned breach of contract ruling against Grab Inc (Grab) and Uber Technologies, Inc (Uber) in connection with the divestment of Uber's South East Asia operations to Grab. It follows the CCCS's preliminary determination that the transaction resulted in a significant restriction of effective competitive constraint on the Singapore chauffired point-to-point transportation (CPPT) market for rail ailing platformservices.
CCCS' notification is of interest as it is one of the few recent steps of a antitrust authority which exploits the potential to'dissolve' an alleged anticompetitive concentration after the transaction has been completed. In Singapore Uber and Grab provided carpooling platforms in Singapore in competition with each other. Competitiveness between the two competitors was marked by strong discounts through regular promotional campaigns to the great advantage of the consumer.
Grab published on 26 March 2018, without notifying the CCCS in advance, that Uber's South East Asia activities would be carried out in the light of Uber's 27th anniversary. Grab 5% share. Preliminary instructions were given four working days later, inviting the notifying party, inter alia, to retain its pretransaction price policy and option on its products.
It did so on the ground that the CCCS had reason to suspect that Section 54 of the Singapore's Competition Act had been violated. Paragraph 54 forbids concentrations that have led, or are likely to lead, to a significant reduction in the level of effective competition in a Singapore goods or service markets.
Paragraph 54 is the Singapore-based counterpart to Paragraph 50 of the Australian Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (Cth), which is similar in terms of content. Having found that the combined firm had both been able and had been able to increase price since the closing of the deal (excluding drivers' promotion and incentives), the CCCS emphasised four key elements supporting its preliminary conclusion.
It is the'future with and without testing' that is decisive in assessing whether a concentration has (or would have) significantly affected effective competition. 1. After this test, the competent regulatory authority compares a period during which the concentration takes place with a period during which the concentration does not take place (or in this case, as the concentration has already taken place, a period during which the present state of play is compared with the state of play that would have arisen in the absence of the concentration).
It is important to note that in this case the merging partners claimed that Uber had taken an irreversible withdrawal policy and that there was no situation in which Uber would remain active in Singapore or the remainder of South East Asia. It is important because - if it is the case - it means that the relevance "future without test" is a past without a about.
According to this hypothesis, the prospective with and without valuation would show that the likely competitive situation would not be significantly lower with the concentration than after Uber's withdrawal. It is interesting to note that the CCCS found that it had found proof that without the transaction Uber would not have exited the Singapore markets in the short to mid range and would have either maintained its activities or combined its South East Asia activities with other prospective purchasers (which were not its existing Singapore competitors).
In other words, the defense of the 'ailing company' would not be applicable to the concentration. On the contrary, the CCCS found that the concentration'eliminated effective entry into force'of the two nearest rivals in the Singapore based markets for CPPTs. The CCCTB states that taxibook reservation systems have a lower than 15 per cent overall audience and were not regarded as having enough pressure on the merging companies to compete.
CCCS also highlighted the importance of networking efficiencies that contribute to high entrance and growth barrier levels in the riding tailing platforms service markets. CCCS found that Grab had introduced exclusive commitments for taxis, hire cars and some of its chauffeurs by restricting competitors' exposure to chauffeurs and cars and requiring beginners to make substantial start-up investments to draw chauffeurs and passengers.
Therefore, rivals may not be able to grow and efficiently competing without connecting to a passenger hauling platforms. The CCCTB' s perspective on this point was reinforced by the fact that it had obtained feed-back from prospective newcomers, which indicated that without regulation it would be hard to achieve a sufficiently large driver/rider pool to ensure efficient day-to-day rivalry.
Against this background, the CCCS came to the conclusion that Grab would be able to increase tariffs and decrease levels of customer satisfaction and innovative services. Concern has been expressed to the CCCS about this matter and there have been grievances from chauffeurs and chauffeurs about increased prices, among them fewer passenger actions and driving inducements after the merge. Lastly, the CCCS found that the notifying companies had not demonstrated that the operation would lead to efficiency gains that would have outweighed the handicap.
That is a referral to the Act's 4th Timetable, which provides that the ban in Section 54 is not applicable if the commercial efficiency gains from the concentration offset the negative impact of a significant reduction in effective competition on the Singapore markets. The CCCS therefore considers that the operation should result in a significant reduction in effective competitive constraints.
Besides the option to cancel the deal, the CCCS has suggested a number of other measures. This includes measures such as the prevention of Grab increasing its price (by obliging Grab to keep its price algorithms and driving fees before the merger) until such time as there is renewed competitive pressure on the markets, the elimination of exclusive rights and lock-in period for mileage.
CCCS also proposes to fine the notifying party'because CCCS has found that it implemented the transaction despite foreseen possible competitive constraints and created an SLC in the Singapore Ride-Hailing platforms service market'. CCCS requests response to the suggested corrective actions by 19 July, after which a definitive remedial action will be taken.