Uber to acquire Careem for $3.1b to expand in ME region - GulfToday

Uber to acquire Careem for $3.1 billion to expand in ME region


A woman opens the Careem app on her mobile phone before she starts driving in Riyadh. Associated Press

DUBAI: Uber and Careem have reached an agreement for Uber to acquire Careem for $3.1 billion, consisting of $1.7 billion in convertible notes and $1.4 billion in cash. The acquisition of Careem is subject to applicable regulatory approvals. The transaction is expected to close in first quarter of 2020.

Uber will acquire all of Careem’s mobility, delivery, and payments businesses across the greater Middle East region, ranging from Morocco to Pakistan, with major markets including Egypt, Jordan, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.

Upon closing, Careem will become a wholly-owned subsidiary of Uber, preserving its brand. Careem co-founder and CEO Mudassir Sheikha will lead the Careem business, which will report to its own board made up of three representatives from Uber and two representatives from Careem.

Careem and Uber will operate their respective regional services and independent brands.

“This is an important moment for Uber as we continue to expand the strength of our platform 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. Working closely with Careem’s founders, I’m confident we will deliver exceptional outcomes for riders, drivers, and cities, in this fast-moving part of the world,” said Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi.

In a memo to staff, Khosrowshahi said that keeping the Careem app intact allows Uber to try out new ideas across both brands. Over time, the firms will integrate part of their networks, he said.

Sheikha, in turn, said that joining forces with Uber will help accelerate Careem’s purpose of simplifying and improving the lives of people, and building an awesome organisation that inspires. The mobility and broader internet opportunity in the region is massive and untapped, and has the potential to leapfrog our region into the digital future.

“We could not have found a better partner than Uber under Dara’s leadership to realise this opportunity. This is a milestone moment for us and the region, and will serve as a catalyst for the region’s technology ecosystem by increasing the availability of resources for budding entrepreneurs from local and global investors,” she added.

The greater Middle East region is already seeing the economic and social benefits of rapid technology adoption and improved access to transportation.

This transaction supports the collective ability of Careem and Uber to improve the region’s transportation infrastructure at scale and offer diverse mobility, delivery and payment options. It will speed up the delivery of digital services to people in the region through the development of a consumer-facing super-app that offers services such as Careem’s digital payment platform (Careem Pay) and last-mile delivery (Careem NOW).

This transaction brings together Uber’s global leadership and technical expertise with Careem’s regional technology infrastructure and proven ability to develop innovative local solutions. Both companies believe it will provide an opportunity to expand the variety and reliability of services offered, at a broader range of price points to serve more consumers.

Similarly, for drivers and captains, the companies believe an increase in trip growth and improved services could provide better work opportunities as well as higher and more predictable earnings through greater utilisation of drivers’ time on the road.

Careem, founded by two former management consultants at McKinsey & Co., is popular in countries like Egypt and Pakistan where people overwhelmingly use cash over credit cards.

Careem›s app gave riders localised options, like paying by cash rather than uber’s initial credit card-only system. Last year, Careem was said to be exploring a bus service for Egypt›s lower-income riders.

Despite Uber›s regional launch in 2015 and services like Uber Eats that delivers food, Careem maintained the lead operating in more than 100 cities across 15 countries. The company was valued at about $1 billion in a 2016 funding round and an estimated $2 billion last year.

Dubai now has three of the region›s most high-profile start-up success stories. In 2017, Amazon purchased Mideast online retailer Souq.com for reportedly close to $700 million. A decade ago, Yahoo acquired Dubai-based Arab-language internet site Maktoob.

Mudassir Sheikha described the acquisition as a «milestone» for the company and for budding entrepreneurs in the region.

“This has put our region on the map and has shown it›s a great place to build some of the best technology in the world,” Sheikha said in a statement to Careem customers.

Saudi Technology Ventures, one of Careem›s investors, said the local ride-hailing firm succeeded by using its deep local knowledge and expertise to cater to the needs of Mideast›s youth.

Other Careem investors include Kingdom Holding, German car manufacturer Daimler AG, Japanese tech firm Rakuten and Mideast venture capital firm Wamda.