Here’s a wrap of the day’s news.
You may have heard this before, but apparently Grab is close to acquiring Uber’s Southeast Asian business (Southeast Asia). Sure, it isn’t the first time this rumor has surfaced. But this time, anonymous sources are saying a deal could be done within the next two weeks. As previously reported, an agreement would likely see Grab take over most or all of Uber’s ride-hailing business in the region in return for a hefty stake in the Singapore-based company – potentially up to 20 percent, according to the sources. Exiting the tough Southeast Asia market would help stem huge losses at Uber as it preps itself for IPO next year. (Bloomberg)
Meanwhile, Uber’s co-founder and former CEO Travis Kalanick is making a return to the startup world (Asia Pacific). This time, the sometimes controversial Kalanick will be on the investment side – he’s launching his own VC firm named 10100. “The overarching theme will be about large-scale job creation, with investments in real estate, commerce, and emerging innovation in China and India.” Kalanick wrote in a blog post. “Our non-profit efforts will initially focus on education and the future of cities.” (Business Insider)
Singapore’s ride-hailing sector could face much more stringent regulation in the future (Singapore). The country’s government is considering the introduction of a licensing framework for the industry that would give it a “broader range of regulatory levers” to protect the interests of both passengers and drivers. Whether Uber will still be around to actually obtain such a license is another matter… (The Straits Times)
Elsewhere, there was a favorable development for Grab in its anti-competition suit in Ho Chi Minh City (Vietnam). A local court suspended the case that taxi firm Vinasun had brought against Grab, due to Vinasun’s failure to submit evidence supporting its claims before a court-set deadline. Proceedings might resume at a later date, but Grab said it beleives it has “a very strong case” and its “operations in Vietnam have always been compliant with current rules and regulations.” (Grab)
Pepperfry nets US$38.4 million from US backer State Street Global Advisors (India). The online furniture retailer said it will invest the funds into enhancing its offline presence and logistics network. This will include supply chain expansion, technology development, and opening new physical stores. (Livemint)
Carsome raises US$19 million for regional growth (Malaysia). The used-car trading platform secured the funding in a series B round led by Burda Principal Investments. Gobi Partners, InnoVen Capital, and Lumia Capital also participated. Carsome co-founder and CEO Eric Cheng told Tech in Asia that the new funds would be deployed to hire new talent and expand regionally, with a focus on Indonesia and Thailand. (Tech in Asia)
Japanese regulators sanction seven crypto-exchanges (Japan). The country’s Financial Services Agency (FSA) suspended Bitstation and FSHO from doing business for one month. It also ordered five others, including Coincheck – which was subject to a US$530 million theft in January – to improve internal controls. The FSA became the world’s first regulatory body to create a register of officially approved cryptocurrency exchanges in September last year. (The Financial Times)
See: Previous Asia tech news roundups
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