SoftBank-Backed Grab Asks Staff to Take No-Pay Leave to Cut Costs

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(Bloomberg) -- Ride hailing and food delivery provider Grab Holdings Inc. has begun asking its staff to go on voluntary no-pay leave or take reduced working hours to help it avoid cutting jobs, the latest sign of troubles at Southeast Asia’s most valuable startup.

The Singapore-based company, which is backed by SoftBank Group Corp., said it has given its staff across the region an option to take flexible working options, including sabbaticals, where there is excess capacity. Grab, last valued at $14 billion, has 6,000 employees.

“We are taking active steps to conserve cash and manage our employee base, before we consider layoffs,” the company said in response to queries from Bloomberg News. “There is a lot of uncertainty as to the depth and duration of the pandemic and we don’t know how long the economic recession will last.”

Grab Chief Executive Officer Anthony Tan warned last week that the coronavirus is creating significant challenges that will require “tough decisions” about cutting costs and managing capital.

On-demand service companies have been hit hard in the economic slowdown caused by the pandemic. Responding to plunging demand for rides, Lyft Inc. said this week it will eliminate the jobs of almost 1,000 employees across the company, or about 17% of its workforce.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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