File picture: Independent Media
MUMBAI - An Indian taxi company has stepped up its legal challenge against local competitor Ola and US rival Uber, alleging that the firms are abusing their market position, and believes that planned investments in both by Japan’s SoftBank underscore its view.

The head of India’s Meru Cabs said the company has filed four new complaints with the country’s antitrust watchdog, claiming that Uber and Ola are abusing their dominance in four different cities by burning vast sums of investor funds to distort the market. “Even before there is any merger or alliance between the two through global investors, there is already a unified monopoly,” Meru’s chief executive Nilesh Sangoi said.

Though Meru lost an earlier antitrust suit versus Ola, lawyers and industry sources said that moves by SoftBank - already a major investor in Ola - to pour some R137 billion into Uber along with other investors could strengthen the local cab service’s case.

Sangoi said that Uber and Ola have been altering driver incentives and passenger fares in tandem.

“Our existing cases get strengthened” with the SoftBank investment, he said, but added that the Japanese firm’s plans weren’t cited in the latest complaints.

Ola yesterday said that it has raised $1.1bn from investors led by China’s Tencent Holdings and SoftBank.

Ola operates in more than 100 Indian cities and Uber in about 30, and both firms have burnt millions to lure riders and drivers in a bid to outdo each other. 

- REUTERS