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Uber is also facing challenges around the world over its classification of drivers as contractors rather than full-time employees. Photo: Reuters (Reuters)
Uber is also facing challenges around the world over its classification of drivers as contractors rather than full-time employees. Photo: Reuters (Reuters)

Uber seeks more London talks as it appeals licence ban

While Uber has begun the appeal process against the ban in London, primarily to keep its drivers operating in the city, the company looks keen to avoid a lengthy court battle

London: Uber Technologies Inc., the world’s largest startup, appealed a London regulator’s decision to revoke the car service’s licence as it seeks more settlement talks.

Uber, which can continue to operate during its appeal, was banned by Transport for London on 22 September over safety concerns and the company’s attempts to avoid regulation. The lawsuit was filed at Westminster magistrate’s court Friday, the company said.

“We hope to continue having constructive discussions with Transport for London," Uber said in an emailed statement. “We are determined to make things right."

The license talks in London is just one of a range of issue Uber is currently battling. The company is facing at least five criminal probes from the US justice department, ranging from issues including possible bribes, illicit software, questionable pricing schemes and theft of a competitor’s intellectual property.

The UK capital’s authorities said the San Francisco-based company hasn’t properly reported crimes or done adequate background checks on drivers, concluding the firm doesn’t pass the “fit and proper" test to operate.

While Uber has begun the appeal process, primarily to keep its drivers operating in London, the company is keen to avoid a lengthy court battle, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Under its new chief executive officer (CEO), Uber has been trying to distance itself from its headstrong approach to expansion, led by co-founder and former CEO Travis Kalanick. Executives have been keen to flag the company’s new conciliatory approach, with new CEO Dara Khosrowshahi flying to London to smooth relations with transport regulators in its largest European market.

London is a flagship city for Uber outside its US home market, and a petition launched by the ride-sharing app to protest TfL’s decision has gathered more than 800,000 signatures.

Uber is also facing challenges around the world over its classification of drivers as contractors rather than full-time employees. On Monday the San Francisco-based company said it’s suspending the UberPop service in Oslo, and expressed its intent to conform to local regulation.

“We haven’t always gotten this right, and we’ve learned the hard way that we must change as a company in order to serve the millions of riders and drivers who rely on us," Uber said in a statement regarding its Norwegian suspension.

It remains to be seen whether regulators will be swayed. London Mayor Sadiq Khan on Thursday that he “welcomed the apology from the global CEO of Uber" and that he was pleased Khosrowshahi had “performed a u-turn."

It is difficult to gauge Uber’s true profitability in the UK capital. While Uber London is the operating company for the city, actual commissions from drivers are routed to a holding company in the Netherlands — Uber International BV. Net sales for Uber International BV for 2016 increased to $1.62 billion from $519.8 million, according to company documents filed in the Netherlands. Bloomberg

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