Uber and Careem in merger discussions, report says
Ride hailing services are discussing merging operations in the Middle East, says Bloomberg
Uber and Careem are in preliminary talks about combining operations in the Middle East, according to Bloomberg.
The news agency said that sources say the two ride-hailing services are in discussions, but have not been able to agree on how a deal would work in practice.
In face of bans in many markets, Uber has sold operations in a number of territories, but is believed to want to keep operating in the Middle East.
In its discussions with Careem, Uber has said that it would need to own more than half of the combined company, if not buy Careem outright, according to the people familiar with the talks.
A spokesman for Uber declined to comment.
Under one proposed arrangement, Careem's current leaders would manage the new combined business on a day-to-day basis while retaining one or both of the companies' local brands, the people said.
Another proposal would have Uber acquire Careem. The people also said that discussions have been ongoing and may not result in a deal.
Careem, a local favourite, is currently in talks with investors to raise $500 million, potentially valuing the Dubai-based ride-hailing company at about $1.5 billion. The company is said to have held early talks with banks about a potential IPO in January.
Uber chief executive officer Dara Khosrowshahi said at a conference in May that he believed Uber 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," Khosrowshahi said.
Careem operates in more than 70 cities across at least 10 countries from North Africa to Pakistan, and is a leader in most of them. Its biggest market is Saudi Arabia, where Uber has been pushing plans to sign up female drivers to take advantage of the kingdom's decision to overturn a ban on women behind the wheel.