Indian ride-hailing giant Ola quits UK, Australia and NZ in international pullback

Indian ride-hailing giant Ola is shutting down its operations in the UK, Australia and New Zealand, six years after expanding to international markets as it shifts focus to shoring up its domestic business ahead of an initial public offering.

An Ola spokesperson told TechCrunch that the SoftBank-backed ride-hailing startup sees “immense opportunity for expansion in India,” where it operates in hundreds of cities and offers a range of transportation options, including two-wheelers.

“With this clear focus, we’ve reassessed our priorities and have decided to shut down our overseas ride-hailing business in its current form in the UK, Australia and New Zealand,” the spokesperson added.

Valued at $7.3 billion in 2021, Ola is among the most high-profile startups in India and is backed by some of the biggest names including Temasek, Tiger Global and Warburg Pincus. The startup plans to file for an initial public offering after the public listing of Ola Electric, the leading electric two-wheeler brand in India that spun out of Ola.

Ola Electric is looking to raise $662 million from its IPO in India, according to paperwork it filed late last year.

Ola and Uber, its chief rival in India, slowed their domestic expansion during the pandemic and have since largely focused on improving their unit economics. The two firms have explored merging businesses in recent years, but have been unable to reach an agreement. Both continue to insist publicly that they have no interest in partnering with the rival.

Uber chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi recently said the ride-hailing firm’s market share in India has been “higher than probably ever.”

“While (rival) Ola focuses on other areas…we love the ride-sharing business. We also continue to expand into new categories and are dedicated to sustainability. Some of our competitors are distracted by shiny, new efforts and IPOs, that’s great. I’m undistracted and completely focused on the mobility business here as there’s an enormous amount of upside for us and our positioning has never been better,” he told local media.

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