Uber says it will pull out of Canada's Quebec province

TORONTO (Reuters) – Ride-hailing service Uber Technologies Inc [UBER.UL] said on Tuesday it will stop operating in the Canadian province of Quebec next month, pulling out to avoid following tough new regulations announced last week.

Uber is withdrawing from Canada’s second-most populous province as it also battles a decision to strip the company of its license to operate in London, the latest in a series of regulatory attacks on Uber as new Chief Executive Dara Khosrowshahi seeks to rebuild the company’s image.

Uber’s Quebec general manager, Jean-Nicolas Guillemette, said the company would cease operations in the province on Oct. 14.

Uber employs more than 50 office workers in the province, where more than 10,000 drivers have worked for the company, he said.

The company left room to reverse its decision, calling on the government to reconsider regulations announced on Friday that tightened up the rules of a pilot project that had let Uber operate since October last year.

“We’re asking the government to renew the pilot project and let’s sit down and find a solution to this,” Guillemette said.

A spokesman for Quebec’s transport minister said the province would not budge on new rules requiring drivers to undergo 35 hours of training and to have their criminal background checks validated by Quebec police instead of third parties.

During the pilot, Uber drivers were ticketed for not identifying their vehicles, driving cars that were too old, and accepting rides hailed off the street, while some were also found to have criminal records, said Mathieu Gaudreault, spokesman for Laurent Lessard, Quebec’s minister for transportation.

“We can negotiate with them, but not on the basis of those two things,” Gaudreault said.

He said Uber had paid the province around C$ 7 million ($ 5.68 million) in fees during the pilot which would fund efforts to modernize the province’s taxi industry.

Taxi operators have opposed Uber’s presence in Quebec, sometimes blocking traffic during protests in Montreal.

The move affects Quebec cities including Montreal, the country’s second-largest city, and Quebec City. It does not affect operations in other Canadian cities, including Toronto, Ottawa, Calgary and Edmonton.

Uber does not operate in Vancouver or Winnipeg, due to a lack of provincial regulation in the provinces of British Colombia and Manitoba, respectively.

Uber rival Lyft, which operates only in the United States at present, has started exploring a move north of the border. Its lobbyists have met several times with municipal officials in Toronto, according to city records.

Additional reporting by Arjun Panchadar in Bengaluru; Editing by Jim Finkle and Matthew Lewis

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Tech

Alibaba takes control of logistics business, pledges $15 billion to expand network

HONG KONG (Reuters) – Chinese e-commerce firm Alibaba Group announced it will invest 100 billion yuan ($ 15.12 billion) over five years to build a global logistics network and also take control of a $ 20 billion unit, underpinning an aggressive overseas expansion.

Alibaba is investing 5.3 billion yuan in Cainiao Smart Logistics Network to boost its stake to 51 percent from 47 percent. The investment would value Cainiao, a joint venture of top Chinese logistics firms, at around $ 20 billion.“Our commitment to Cainiao and additional investment in logistics demonstrate Alibaba’s commitment to building the most-efficient logistic network in China and around the world,” Alibaba CEO Daniel Zhang said in a statement on Tuesday.

The announcement comes as Alibaba is rapidly expanding its e-commerce and logistics network abroad, including newly announced direct sales channels in Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines, facilitated by a $ 2 billion investment in Southeast Asian online retailer Lazada Group.

Alibaba’s latest investment in Cainiao also signals its intention to boost control over the domestic warehousing and delivery market, which has become increasingly competitive as firms seek to capitalize on logistics data assets.

In June top logistics firm SF Holding Co cut ties with the Cainiao coalition, which provides logistics support directly to Alibaba’s top e-commerce platform Taobao, claiming Alibaba had requested data unrelated to the existing partnership agreement. Alibaba denied the claims.

Alibaba said on Tuesday the $ 15 billion investment will be used to develop its data technology and improve its warehousing and delivery development.

Alibaba subscribed to new shares of Cainiao to boost its stake to a majority, according to a person close to the e-commerce firm. Alibaba will gain a new board seat in Cainiao, and will represent four out of a total seven seats.

Despite attracting billions of dollars from equity investors, Chinese logistic firms haven’t fared well in recent public listings.

Shares of ZTO Express Inc, which raised $ 1.4 billion from its New York IPO last October in the largest U.S. offering by any Chinese company since Alibaba in 2014, are down 22 percent from the listing price.

And Best Inc, a Chinese delivery firm backed by Alibaba, raised $ 450 million in a U.S. IPO last week, nearly half of what it had initially intended to raise.

Cainiao is not currently considering any IPO, the person said.

Alibaba did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Alibaba co-founded Cainiao in 2013, with partners including department store owner Intime Group, conglomerate Fosun Group and a few logistics companies. It oversees roughly 57 million deliveries a day.

Reporting by Kane Wu and Cate Cadell; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Tech