Daily Briefing: Grab required to go back to pre-merger pricing algorithms; Prudential hires former Goldman Sachs’ top SEA banker

And NTUC FairPrice halts Australian strawberry imports.

The Competition and Consumer Commission of Singapore (CCCS) ruled that Grab should go back to its pre-merger pricing algorithm amidst its ‘excessive’ surge multipliers after it acquired Uber.

CCCS Director (Business and Economics) Herbert Fung explained how the prices are capped but stressed that the measures do not affect Grab’s flexibility to apply dynamic pricing under normal demand and supply conditions.

“So they have an algorithm to calculate that. Prices can change during the day, we are not disallowing this dynamic pricing to happen, but they cannot modify their algorithm to exercise market power and make it more expensive.”

In response to queries from Channel NewsAsia, a Grab spokesperson said that the company has not raised its prices since the merger deal.

“Grab will continue to adhere to our pre-transaction pricing model, pricing policies and driver commissions. We have been and will continue to submit weekly pricing data to the CCCS for monitoring,” the spokesperson said, adding that it does not foresee the measures impacting its business.

Former Goldman Sachs managing director Edmund Lim will join Prudential’s Eastspring Investments unit as head of corporate development by November after previously leading Goldman Sachs’ Southeast Asia financial institutions group.

The banker is leaving Goldman after seven years to pursue other opportunities, people familiar with the matter said last week.

Prudential has singled out Asia as the key region for growth, with a focus on expanding in asset management. Eastspring agreed in July to buy control of TMB Asset Management Co., Thailand’s fifth-biggest fund house with the equivalent of 10b pounds (US$13.1b) under management.

Lim will report to Bernard Teo, head of corporate strategy, mergers and acquisitions, according to the email. Teo also worked at Goldman before he joined the Prudential unit in 2016, Eastspring’s website shows.

NTUC FairPrice has stopped all strawberry imports from Australia amidst reports from the Australian police of needles found in the fruit.

Replying to queries from Channel NewsAsia, an NTUC FairPrice spokesperson said Australian strawberries from previous batches of imports remain available, but will not be replenished when they are sold out.

“As a responsible retailer, FairPrice takes food safety and quality matters very seriously,” said the spokesperson in the statement.

Sales of strawberries have slowed down by about 10 per cent since the reports came to light, said the spokesperson, adding that FairPrice has not received reports of similar incidents in Singapore.

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