Uber will hold majority stake in any deal it does, says COO Barney Harford
In the past year, there have been rumours about a potential Ola-Uber merger in India
San Francisco: Uber Technologies Inc. is considering both internal and external candidates for the role of India head for the company as it dismissed rumours of an imminent merger with arch-rival Ola (ANI Technologies Pvt. Ltd). Late last month, Uber promoted Amit Jain, who headed its India unit, to lead its entire Asia Pacific business. Jain will oversee several countries including India, Japan, Australia and New Zealand. Uber is looking for a India general manager (GM) as well as GMs in some other Asian markets who will all report to Jain, chief operating officer Barney Harford said in an interview.
“Amit did such a good job in India that we’ve asked him to take up the broader Asia-Pacific. We always want to make sure we’re bringing in the best candidate, but we do have some really strong internal candidates,” Harford said.
In the past year, there have been rumours about a potential merger between Uber India and Ola. Analysts pointed out that Uber has already sold its businesses in Russia, China and South-East Asia to local rivals in those markets in order to cut losses. The rumours only grew stronger after the SoftBank Vision Fund, which was the largest shareholder in Ola, became the biggest investor in Uber in January.
Harford said that in its remaining markets, including India, the company will only consider a deal in which Uber ends up with a majority stake.
“For a company that is growing as fast as we are, it would be insane for us to not be open to conversations with potential partners. However, what we have been very clear about is post the Grab transaction, the markets that we remain in today represent the core markets for us and we have zero interest in doing deals in that core set of markets that would result in minority stake for ourselves. Any transaction that we’ll do will be one where we have majority control,” Harford said.
Harford joined Uber as COO in January, becoming the second most powerful leader at the company after Dara Khosrowshahi, who is building a new management team after replacing Uber co-founder Travis Kalanick as chief executive last August.
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