Uber Technologies Inc. is hiring Goldman Sachs Group Inc.’s former chairman for Southeast Asia to lead the development of its business from Japan to Singapore. Brooks Entwistle, who announced his retirement in 2012 after two decades at the U.S. investment bank, will become Uber’s chief business officer in the Asia Pacific and a key member of the ride-hailing giant’s regional leadership. His responsibilities will include forging partnerships and autonomous vehicle alliances across the region, excluding India. He’s joining Uber from Everstone Group, a private equity and real estate firm with offices in India and Singapore, where he served as chief executive officer. Uber is hiring an American financier with deep Asian experience as well-funded local rivals undermine its business. Didi Chuxing drove Uber out of China last year and and Grab — now its fiercest regional rival — raised $2 billion last month from Didi and SoftBank Group Corp. in what was the largest-ever venture funding in Southeast Asia. Uber’s rapid expansion across the region has also spurred clashes with local governments including in the Philippines, where it’s fighting a government-imposed suspension. “Uber is a once-in-a-generation company,’’ he said in an interview in Singapore, adding that the conversation to join Uber started in earnest in April. “I wouldn’t have joined if I didn’t see there was a huge opportunity.’’
The world’s most valuable startup remains a strong contender in more than 100 cities across 18 Asian countries. Entwistle, a mountaineer who’s reached the summit of Everest, joined Goldman in 1989 as an analyst. Before leaving in 2012, he’d set up the investment bank’s India business in 2006 and remained country head until early 2011. He also worked as a United Nations election supervisor in Cambodia in 1992 and 1993. He will report to David Richter, Uber’s global head of business in San Francisco.