Unable to handle the development of riding-sharing applications, SMRT CEO and former army general Desmond Kwek is now selling the 27-years SMRT taxis operations to Grab. According to state media Straits Times, SMRT signaled its intentions to sell off 3,400 taxi vehicles and transfer the taxi license to Malaysian company Grab. As part of the sale demand, SMRT wants a board of directors seat in Grab.
However Grab declared that they are unwilling to hire former SMRT staffs. This means the sale will create massive retrenchments of employees under SMRT Taxis unit. When queried by the media, SMRT refused to declare how many employees will be affected. It is understood negotiation is still underway, but it is unlikely SMRT will stop the sale because of employees.
SMRT taxis operations saw a 17.9% decline in operating profit, down to S$4.5 million in the Q1 of 2017.
The sale of the SMRT taxis operations is yet another high profile sell-off decision by Temasek Holdings, following the proposed sale for telecom company M1 through its portfolios SPH and Keppel. There has been no buyer for M1 so far although Temasek Holdings have reportedly approached China Mobile.