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Grab-Uber deal tests Southeast Asian antitrust watchdogs

Merger of ride-hailing companies outsmarts regional competition authorities

Applicants fill out forms to join Grab at its Hanoi office in 2017. The Grab-Uber merger deal was the first of its kind for Vietnam’s regulator since the country's competition law came into effect in 2005.   © AP Photo/Tran Van Minh

MANILA -- Southeast Asia's antitrust regulators have entered an uncharted territory with the Grab-Uber merger, an unprecedented deal that has tested competition authorities' mettle and exposed loopholes in enforcement.

The Vietnam Competition Authority on April 13 became the latest regulator to probe the transaction, nearly three weeks after the deal was announced. Grab, a ride-hailing service founded in Malaysia and based in Singapore, said on March 26 that it was acquiring the Southeast Asian businesses of its U.S. rival. In exchange, Uber gets a 27.5% stake in Grab.

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