Uber buys Middle East rival Careem for $3.1bn

Global ride-hailing company says Careem will keep its brand as wholly-owned subsidiary of Uber.

    Uber buys Middle East rival Careem for $3.1bn
    Uber said Careem will operate as an independent company led by its original founders [Satish Kumar/Reuters]

    Global ride-hailing service provider Uber has acquired its Middle East competitor Careem for $3.1bn, making it the largest-ever technology purchase in the region.

    Uber said in a statement on Tuesday that the $3.1bn purchase consists of $1.7bn in convertible notes and $1.4bn in cash. Under the deal, Careem will keep its brand as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Uber, operating as an independent company led by its original founders.

    The Dubai-based Careem is among the Middle East's most successful startups. Careem quickly became popular across the Middle East, particularly in countries like Egypt and Pakistan, in part because it introduced the option for riders to pay by cash rather than just credit card. It was launched in the region in 2012, three years before Uber.

    Uber's CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said the deal expands the US-based company's strength around the world.

    "With a proven ability to develop innovative local solutions, Careem has played a key role in shaping the future of urban mobility across the Middle East, becoming one of the most successful startups in the region," Khosrowshahi said.

    Careem's CEO and cofounder Mudassir Sheikha described the deal as a "milestone" for the company and for budding entrepreneurs in the region, as well as local and global investors.

    Sheikha will lead Careem's business under Uber and report to a board made up of three representatives from Uber and two from Careem.

    Saudi-based Kingdom Holding, one of Careem's early investors, said the acquisition is an opportunity for both companies to expand and benefit from the region's rapid growth.

    SOURCE: News agencies