KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 3 — Ride-hailing provider Grab expressed surprise today at Malaysia’s competition regulator’s proposed fine of RM86.77 million against the Singapore-based firm, asserting that it has followed Malaysia’s law against anti-competitive practices.
A Grab spokesman said its lawyers are studying the Malaysia Competition Commission’s (MyCC) proposed fine on the company — believed to be for restricting Grab drivers from showing advertisements from its competitors.
“We maintain our position that we have complied fully with the Competition Act 2010. We are surprised by the Proposed Decision that we received this morning.
“Whilst our legal counsels are now studying the Proposed Decision, we believe that it is common practice for businesses to decide upon the availability and type of third-party advertising on their respective platforms, tailored according to consumers’ needs and feedback. We will be submitting our written representations to MyCC by 27 November 2019,” the Singapore-based company’s spokesman said in a brief statement.
Earlier today, MyCC CEO Iskandar Ismail was reported saying that the regulator has proposed the fine of over RM86 million on Grab after ruling the company as having abused its dominant position in the local market by preventing its drivers from giving advertising services to the company’s rivals.
“MyCC further notes that the restrictive clauses had the effect of distorting competition in the relevant market that is premised on multi-sided platforms by creating barriers to entry and expansion for Grab’s existing and future competitors,” Iskandar was quoted saying by newswire service Reuters.
MyCC also reportedly imposed a penalty of RM15,000 daily from today onwards until Grab takes “remedial actions” as directed by MyCC to address the competition concerns.
MyCC also reportedly said Grab would have 30 working days to submit its representations to the regulator before it makes its final decision on the company.
According to the news report, Iskandar said MyCC’s regulatory action on Grab was not because of its virtual monopoly of the local market after it acquired Uber’s operations in Southeast Asia last March, but was instead due to complaints against Grab.
The report noted that a monopoly by itself is not a breach of the Competition Act in Malaysia, and that it would only be against the law if a company was to abuse its dominant position in the market.