Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 19 September 2019

Uber names new UK and Ireland boss as licence expiry looms

Melinda Roylett, former head of Europe at digital payment company Square, begins her new role at the US-based ride hailer on Monday

US-based ride hailer appoints new chief for Britain and Ireland. EPA
US-based ride hailer appoints new chief for Britain and Ireland. EPA

Uber appointed a new boss for Britain and Ireland on Monday just over a month before its licence expires in London, one of its most important global markets where the regulator has previously stripped it of its right to operate.

Transport for London (TfL) rejected the Silicon Valley company's licence renewal request in 2017 due to failings it said it found in its approach to reporting serious criminal offences and driver background checks, prompting court action, Reuters said.

A British judge in 2018 then granted Uber a probationary 15-month licence which expires on September 25.

Melinda Roylett, former head of Europe at digital payment company Square, begins her new role at Uber on Monday, replacing Tom Elvidge, who moved to co-working space company WeWork earlier this year.

"I am excited to be joining the company as we look to build out even more ways to get the UK moving, support licensed drivers and help make our cities cleaner," she said.

Uber has introduced several new initiatives in London to assuage regulator concerns, including 24/7 telephone support, the proactive reporting of serious incidents to police and the ability to share journeys with friends and family.

Ms Roylett's appointment comes at a tough time for the US-based ride hailer which last week reported second-quarter adjusted sales that fell short of estimates and posted a net loss of $5.24 billion (Dh19.24bn), by far the largest ever for the business.

Most of that loss was attributed to stock-based compensation associated with the initial public offering in May, a routine expense for newly public companies. The adjusted loss - a more commonly used metric for ride-hailing companies, which excludes interest, tax and other expenses - more than doubled to $656 million but wasn’t as large as the $979.1m analysts expected.

What really raised concerns, though, was Uber’s disappointing sales growth, according to Bloomnberg. Adjusted revenue in the second quarter increased 12 per cent from a year earlier, the slowest rate in the company’s history. The San Francisco-based company generated $2.87bn in adjusted revenue for the second quarter, below the estimates of $3.05bn.

Updated: August 19, 2019 12:23 PM

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