There has been talk that Uber may merge with Ola in India. Photo: Reuters/Tyrone Siu

With Japanese tech giant Softbank becoming the largest shareholder in California-based ride-hailing firm Uber, there is speculation that it may exit markets in India and other Asian countries to concentrate in core markets such as the US, Europe, Latin America and Australia.

Softbank also has a significant stake in other ride-hailing companies and it is the largest shareholder in Ola in India, Didi Chuxing in China and Grab in Southeast Asia. And this has spurred speculation that it might not want Uber to compete with its other investments.

A consortium led by SoftBank has made a fresh investment of US$8 billion and the Japanese tech giant’s 15% stake makes it Uber’s largest shareholder.

A comment made by Rajeev Misra, a board member of Softbank and about to join the Uber board, has triggered a strong buzz that Uber may exit India. Talk of a possible merger between Ola and Uber, with Softbank as the common investor, is also doing the rounds.

An Uber India spokesperson dismissed any talk of a merger with Ola as a baseless speculation. But Ola also refused to comment on the issue, Business Standard has reported.

If there is a merger, it could also attract the attention of the Competition Commission of India.