Uber launches in new Southeast Asian markets amid push for government blessing

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BANGKOK (Reuters) – Uber Technologies Inc [UBER.UL] launched operations in Cambodia on Thursday after it received local regulatory approval amid a wider push to secure the blessings of authorities in the markets within which it operates.

It commenced operations in Myanmar in June, after securing regulatory approval there. Its new services in Thailand, which it launched in the northeastern province of Khon Kaen this week, however, remain unregulated.

Uber’s new city launches come as it faces increased government scrutiny after the U.S. Department of Justice started an investigation into the company over into whether it broke bribery laws in its Asia operations.

The company announced on Wednesday that it was ending operations in Quebec due to new regulations in the Canadian province. Last week, London’s transport watchdog said it would not renew Uber’s license to operate.

Amy Kunrojpanya, Uber’s Asia Pacific director of policy & communications, told Reuters Uber has no plans to end operations in Southeast Asian markets and will launch a petition in Thailand to allow Uber to legally operate there.

Thailand, Myanmar, and Cambodia “are not on the list of countries of the Department of Justice probe,” Kunrojpanya said.

Regional rival Grab is growing its presence in Southeast Asia and has grown a significant financial warchest for expansion.

In August, Toyota joined Didi Chuxing and Japan’s SoftBank Group Corp in Grab’s funding drive, which is expected to raise $2.5 billion.

Reporting by Chayut Setboonsarng; Editing by Sam Holmes

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