Uber said to be in talks to acquire Dubai ride hailing firm Careem

Careem pods at the GITEX 2016. Image sourced from the company's Facebook page.

Uber Technologies Inc. is in discussions to buy its Dubai-based rival Careem Networks FZ as the ride-hailing giant expands in the Middle East, people familiar with the matter said.

A deal could value Careem at $2 billion to $2.5 billion, the people said, asking not to be identified because the talks are private. Negotiations are ongoing and Careem’s management is working to convince the firm’s shareholders of the merits of a deal, the people said. No final decisions have been made, and the companies may decide against the transaction, they said.

“We believe the consumer internet opportunity in the region is massive and untapped,” Careem said in an emailed statement. “In the last couple of years, the rest of the world has begun to embrace this opportunity and we have been approached by multiple strategic and financial investors. Our ambition remains to build a lasting tech institution from the region.”

A spokesman for Uber declined to comment.

Uber and Careem held preliminary talks in July to combine their Middle Eastern ride-hailing services, hoping to resolve a costly rivalry in the region, people familiar with the matter said at the time. Uber had said it wanted to own more than half of the combined company and had also discussed buying Careem outright at the time, the people said.

A deal with Uber could head off a potential initial public offering. Careem had held talks with investors earlier this year to raise $500 million, potentially valuing the firm at about $1.5 billion ahead of a possible listing, people familiar with the matter said in May. The company, whose backers include Japanese e-commerce giant Rakuten Inc. and German automaker Daimler AG, was valued at a little more than $1 billion in a 2016 funding round, making it one of the most valuable technology startups in the Middle East.

Uber Chief Executive Officer Dara Khosrowshahi said at a conference in May that he believed the company would come out on top in India, the Middle East and Africa. “We are going to be, I believe, the winning player in those markets and we’re going to control our own destiny,” he said.

Careem has more than a million drivers and operates in more than 100 cities in the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Lebanon, Pakistan, Kuwait, Egypt, Morocco, Jordan, Turkey, Palestine, Iraq and Sudan, according to its website. The app lets customers book rides on cars, bikes, golf carts, boats and rickshaws as well as schedule deliveries.

Bloomberg

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Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.