Ride-hailing app Ola, a rival to Uber, has hired City heavyweight Sir Mike Rake to be its UK chairman in a move that will spark renewed speculation of a stock market flotation of the group.
Rake, the former BT, Worldpay and easyJet chairman, is being joined by Leon Daniels, the global trains and buses adviser and former head of surface transport at Transport for London.
In October, TFL refused to renew the Indian-based company’s licence due to rule breaches including more than 1000 passenger trips with unlicensed drivers and vehicles. It continues operating in the capital while it appeals the decision
Rake and Daniels will be charged with helping rebuild relationships with the London transport regulators as well as help Ola compete against giant Uber.
Ola launched in the capital in February last year and has been operating in other UK cities since 2018.
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Analysts have said it was caught out by the high levels of regulatory compliance London insists on for transport companies compared to other, smaller cities where Ola operates.
The Softbank-backed business’s founder and CEO Bhavish Aggarwal has talked in the past about pursuing an IPO but plans appear to have been delayed by the pandemic and TFL’s actions.
Rake is expected to set up a strong governance structure in a bid to impress regulators that it is a well organised and responsible business worthy of having its licence restored.
Uber ran into similar difficulties in reassuring TFL that it was worthy of operating in the city where the black cab trade have strong lobbying power.
Rake said: “Ola is one of the most ambitious and innovative global technology companies and I am very pleased to be joining at this stage of its journey.”
Ola today operates across 27 local authorities including Birmingham, Liverpool and Bristol.
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