Technology

Uber takeover of UK-based taxi software maker cleared by watchdog

CMA said it found no competition concerns as a result of Uber acquiring Manchester-based Autocab.

Uber’s takeover of British tech firm Autocab has been cleared by the competition watchdog.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) launched an investigation in January to examine whether the deal could impact rivals.

Manchester-based Autocab provides private hire taxi operators across the world with software to run their business.

Ride-hailing giant Uber said in August that it had reached an agreement to acquire the company, saying the move would help it connect passengers with local drivers in areas it does not serve.

These locations include Oxford (an average of 67,000 app opens per month), Doncaster (24,000), Swansea (18,000) and Aberdeen (17,000).

As part of the deal, Uber pledged to keep Autocab independent, with its own staff and management.

The probe concluded that there is only limited indirect competition between the two companies, with no evidence suggesting that Autocab was likely to become a significant and more direct competitor to Uber in the future.

“Millions of people across the UK rely on taxis every day and technology has transformed the way this industry works,” said Joel Bamford, senior director of mergers at the CMA.

“It is therefore important that mergers like these are properly scrutinised to ensure that customers aren’t negatively affected.

“After a thorough investigation, the CMA has found no competition concerns as a result of this deal.

“This is because the companies are not close competitors, the two businesses will continue to face competition from rivals and Autocab’s customer taxi companies can switch to credible alternative providers if they wish.”

Uber recently announced that drivers in the UK will now be treated as workers under employment law, providing them with access to a guaranteed minimum wage, holiday pay and pensions.

The move came after the firm lost a legal battle in the UK, which begun in 2016, over drivers’ status.

A spokesperson for Uber said: “We are delighted that the CMA has approved our acquisition of Autocab.

“We look forward to working with the Autocab team to help local operators grow and provide drivers with genuine earnings opportunities.”

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