Uber has announced that it’s buying Careem, a rival ride-sharing service that operates across 98 cities in the Middle East, Africa, and southern Asia, for $3.1 billion. The New York Times notes that Careem will continue to operate as a separate brand, with a board of directors consisting of a mix of Uber and Careem representatives.
Careem is an important acquisition for Uber, which recently retreated from various overseas markets in China, Russia, and Southeast Asia. With an established business that spans 14 countries, Careem will give Uber a foothold in countries where it lacks a significant presence, as well as introducing it to markets like Iraq and Morocco, where it does not currently operate.
Careem will be a separate brand, but parts of its network will be integrated over time
Uber is expected to IPO next month, with a valuation of as much as $120 billion. However, Reuters notes that the company lost around $3.3 billion last year on revenues of $11.3 billion, as it spent money subsidising its riders and drivers to become more competitive with rivals. Its closest US-based rival, Lyft, filed its IPO at the beginning of March, with an expected valuation of up to $23 billion.
In a memo sent to Uber’s staff that was later published by CNBC, the company’s CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said that the structure of the deal would allow Uber and Careem to “build new products and try new ideas across not one, but two, strong brands,” but said that over time he expected parts of their networks to integrate in order to increase efficiency, reduce wait times, and launch new products like high-capacity vehicles.
The acquisition, which consists of $1.4 billion in cash and $1.7 billion in convertible notes, is currently subject to regulatory approval. Khosrowshahi says he expects the process to be completed until early 2020.