Uber Technologies Inc's chief executive pledged to continue investing aggressively in Southeast Asia even though the U.S. ride hailing firm expects to lose money in the fast growing market due to costly battles with rivals such as Grab.
SoftBank's 15 percent stake purchase in Uber last month has opened up the possibility of combining Uber with other ride-hailing assets the Japanese group owns across Asia. SoftBank has stakes in Singapore-based Grab and India's Ola.
At the time of the investment, SoftBank said it wants Uber to focus on growing in the United States, Europe, Latin America and Australia - not Asia, which has been among the most costly and competitive regions for the ride-services firm, a source had told Reuters.
Uber is preparing to sell its Southeast Asia ride-hailing business to Grab in return for a substantial stake in the company, CNBC reported earlier this month, citing sources familiar with the matter.
But Dara Khosrowshahi seemed to dismiss that strategy on Thursday in his first official visit to Asia since he became Uber CEO last year.
"We expect to lose money in Southeast Asia and expect to invest aggressively in terms of marketing, subsidies etc," Khosrowshahi told reporters in New Delhi, adding there is huge potential in the region thanks to a big population and fast internet user growth.
"From a competitive standpoint we think we can improve," he said.
Khosrowshahi said that a decade from now he expects 80 percent of growth at Uber to be organic and some through acquisitions.
"We will look at anything .... But right now the plan for Southeast Asia is to go forward, lean forward and to invest."