Top UK audit firm to monitor Grab pricing, service quality

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) has chosen UK-based audit firm Smith & Williamson to monitor ride-hailing giant Grab Philippines.

Smith & Williamson will serve as the independent body that will monitor Grab's compliance to the pricing and service quality commitments it had pledged to PCC when it acquired Uber. (READ: Months after Uber left, where are the new ride-hailing firms?)

"Smith & Williamson as the independent monitoring group will serve as our eyes and ears on the ground. Their reports or recommendations will be evaluated but PCC will still ultimately determine any possible transgressions," Antitrust Chairman Arsenio Balisacan said.

Smith & Williamson is a top UK firm that has over a century's experience as an audit firm, and 13 years of reporting to various antitrust bodies across the world.

It handled high-profile cases such as the Lufthansa-Singapore Airlines joint-venture case and Times Publishing Limited's acquisition of British publisher Penguin.

The Competition & Consumer Commission of Singapore had tapped it to monitor how Grab and Uber should operate while the CCCS investigated the deal, according to the Wall Street Journal. 

In August, the PCC approved the Grab-Uber deal but bound Grab to commitments, as if Uber were still operating in the Philippines: 

In a statement on Wednesday, Grab Philippines said it found Smith & Williamson "truly fair and independent" based on the latter's their previous engagement in Singapore.

It was Grab that submitted Smith & Williamson as a nominee to the PCC, along with another firm.

"Grab is satisfied with the decision of the PCC, appointing Smith & Williamson as the independent third party monitor trustee," Leo Gonzales, Grab’s public affairs head said.

"We are looking forward to collaborating with them as we intend to fully conform with and fulfill the voluntary commitments we have submitted to the PCC for the entire duration of the agreed compliance period," he added.

The PCC launched its own review of the acquisition deal between the two companies. The review was suspended when Grab submitted voluntary commitments in June that would address the antitrust watchdog's concerns. –

Aika Rey

Aika Rey covers the Philippine Senate for Rappler. Before writing about politicians, she covered budget, labor, and transportation issues.