Friday 29 January 2021 12:50 pm

Watchdog opens competition probe into Uber’s Autocab takeover

The competition watchdog has opened an investigation into Uber’s planned takeover of taxi tech firm Autocab.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) today said it had launched a probe and was inviting views on how the deal could impact the private hire vehicle market in the UK.

Stockport-based Autocab sells booking and dispatch software to private hire firms.

Announcing the acquisition in August, Uber said Autocab’s technology would allow it to transfer users to other providers in areas where it does not operate.

Uber said the taxi technology would be launched in the UK at first, before expanding the service to other countries. Autocab currently has operations in 20 countries.

But the watchog today said it is investigating the deal’s possible effect on competition, including in the supply of booking and dispatch software to taxi companies in the UK, and any potential impact on consumers. 

“Technology has transformed how the taxi and private vehicle industry works and it is only right that we scrutinise the proposed deal to ensure that customers aren’t negatively affected,” a CMA spokesperson said.

The CMA said representations must be made by 12 February, while the watchdog has until 26 March to decide whether to refer the deal for an in-depth investigation.

An Uber spokeswoman said the company was cooperating fully with the CMA to ensure the probe was completed as quickly as possible.

“We are confident that this acquisition is positive for consumers, will help local operators grow and provide drivers with genuine earning opportunities.”