Having concluded its investigation into Grab’s acquisition of Uber in Vietnam in mid-November 2018, the Vietnam Competition and Consumer Authority (VCCA) announced on 12 December 2018 that the transaction raised potential concerns under Vietnam's Law on Competition. The transaction involved Grab’s purchase of Uber’s Southeast Asian business in consideration of Uber having a 27.5 percent share in Grab.
Following the investigation, the regulator found that parties may have infringed the following provisions:
- Article 20 of the Law on Competition requires parties to an economic concentration to notify their transaction if the post-transaction market share is between 30 percent and 50 percent of the relevant market. The parties may have infringed this article by failing to notify their transaction.
- Article 18 of the Law on Competition prohibits economic concentrations that result in a post-transaction market share of over 50 percent. The parties may have infringed this article by completing the transaction.
The regulator had found in its earlier preliminary investigation that Grab could have a post-acquisition market share of more than 50 percent in Vietnam, although this was contested by Grab, which took the view that its post-acquisition market share was less than 30 percent. Grab's country head for Vietnam reportedly stated that "the key point of contention…lie in the difference in the authorities' and our definition of [the] relevant market and what constitutes a competitive playing field".1
The regulator has transferred the case to the Vietnam Competition Council (VCC), which is responsible for adjudicating alleged infringements of the Law on Competition. Within 30 days after receiving the case dossier, the VCC may either return the file to the VCCA for additional investigation (within 60 days), suspend the case, or open an investigative hearing eventually leading to a decision.
Fines had previously been imposed on Grab and Uber by the Singapore regulator in September 2018 (SGD 13 million, ca. USD 9.4 million), and the Philippines regulator in October 2018 (PHP 16 million, ca. USD 300,000).
1 Nikkei Asian Review, Grab faces Vietnam verdict on Uber merger 'in 30 days' (15 December 2018) https://asia.nikkei.com/Spotlight/Sharing-Economy/Grab-faces-Vietnam-verdict-on-Uber-merger-in-30-days