Ola and Uber, the two urban mobility firms that compete in the same space, are in talks for a possible merger, according to media reports quoting persons familiar with the matter. One of the reports said Ola co-founder and CEO Bhavish Aggarwal has also met top Uber executives in San Francisco, US, recently.
However, both the companies have denied the reports.
“Absolute rubbish,” said Ola’s Aggarwal in a tweet on Friday adding that the company is very profitable and growing well. “If some other companies want to exit their business from India they are welcome to! We will never merge.”
Uber in a statement said, “That report is inaccurate. We are not, nor have we been, in merger talks with Ola.”
Four years ago also, Ola and Uber had held talks when Masayoshi Son-led Softbank, which was a common investor for both the firms, had pushed for a merger but the deal could not take place then. Now, the talks have again revived.
An Ola spokesperson on Friday said the company is one of the most profitable ride-hailing companies in the world with a strong balance sheet. “We are the market leader in India and are much bigger than other player. Hence, merger of any kind is completely out of the equation. We believe that India has a lot more opportunity to unlock when it comes to mobility services. As a strong vertically integrated mobility company we will further consolidate our position by any acquisition in the Indian market, if at all.”
Ola is also reportedly in the process of laying off about 1,000 employees. However, it is aggresively hiring for its electric mobility business. The process has been ongoing across verticals including mobility, hyperlocal, fintech, and its used cars businesses. Those targeted for layoffs have been asked to resign voluntarily, according to an ET report. The firm is delaying the appraisal process of some employees who it wants to fire, so that they resign.
In January 2022, Uber sold its local food delivery business Uber Eats to restaurant aggregator Zomato; while Ola closed down its grocery delivery business and recently invested significantly in Ola Electric Mobility, its electric vehicle venture.