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PCC slaps Grab, Uber with P16-M merger-related fines

The Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) has imposed P16 million of fines against transport network companies Grab Philippines and Uber for “undue difficulties” during a review of their merger agreement earlier this year.

The antitrust commission imposed the penalty on Thursday, October 11, PCC Commissioner Stella Quimbo said in a press conference in Makati City.

Grab and Uber violated two of the seven interim measures which were set by the PCC while it was conducting the review proper.

“One is that the violations prejudiced our ability to impose remedies ... One is that it prejudiced our review process,” she said.

The interim measures were ordered by the PCC on April 10 this year, covering service quality; transparency; pricing; removal of the 'see destination feature; non-exclusivity; incentive monitoring; and the improvement plan.

A breakdown of the fines is a follows:

  • P4 million for executing their merger deal during the review period
  • P8 million on Grab for failing to maintain pre-merger conditions
  • P4 million on Uber for failing to maintain pre-merger conditions

According to Quimbo, the PCC ordered cheaper fines on Uber as it was ordered by the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) to "cease and desist" its operations starting April 16.

“We took into consideration na mayroon period of time na dahil sa pag-comply nila sa LTFRB order ay kinailangan namin i-reduce ang fines ng Uber," she explained.

Under the Philippine Competition Act (PCA), the PCC is required to review all business transactions in the country valued at P2 billion or higher.

Grab and Uber earlier in March implemented an operations merger in the Philippines, which has since been under review of the anti-trust watchdog.

“Given the challenges, it was really just more difficult for PCC to complete the review process,” said Quimbo.

“We required more information, we required more analysis, we required more meetings with the parties which would not have occurred if they were able to return to the pre-merger conditions,” she said.

Quimbo clarified, however, that the fines were made for violations on the interim measures, and is independent of the review on the transaction.

“These fines are not for a finding of a substantial lessening of competition but rather, the fines are imposed for causing undue difficulties on the PCC review and decision-making process,” she explained.

GMA News Online has reached out to officials of Grab for comment, but no response has been received as of posting. —VDS/RSJ, GMA News