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Uber acquires Careem, and by extension, bus aggregator Commut in India

Uber has acquired Careem, its Middle East competitor, for $3.1 billion — $1.4 billion in cash and $1.7 billion in convertible notes, reports Reuters. According to the report, Uber and Careem had been in negotiations for the last 9 months. Bloomberg had reported in July last year that Uber was in talks to merge with Careem, months after it sold its Southeast Asian business to Grab.

Presently, Careem will operate as an independent brand to start with, and its co-founders Mudassir Sheikha, Magnus Olsson and Abdulla Elyas will continue with the company. It will be a wholly owned subsidiary of Uber.

Careem was founded in 2012, and its investors include Daimler AG, Didi Chuxing, Rakuten Inc and Kingdom Holding Company. Headquartered in Dubai, it is present in 100 cities across 14 countries in the Middle East, North Africa, Pakistan, and Turkey. Careem claims to have 975,000 full time and part time drivers (who it calls Captains) and over 15 million users.

Careem’s India connection, Uber’s bus aggregation in India

Interestingly, last September, Careem and Shuttl, an Indian bus aggregator, acqui-hired Commut, a Hyderabad based mass transit company, for an undisclosed amount. Careem will use the acquisition to expand into mass transit services by adding buses in its 100 cities.

In December, Uber launched a bus service in Cairo, Egypt. At this time, we said that if Uber’s global firsts (like cash in India) were anything to go by, Uber Bus would open shop in India soon, maybe even in the next 6-8 months. (Read more here.) Uber has already launched a boat service in Mumbai.

Hot cakes: Uber’s IPO

As Uber IPOs on the New York Stock Exchange for as much as a $120 billion valuation next month, Recode points out that outside the US, Uber is the amalgamation of Uber competitors, really:

“To believe in Uber is to believe in the Uber of the Middle East, Careem, 100 percent of which is now owned by Uber. It is to believe in the Uber of Russia, Yandex, 37 percent of which was owned by Uber. It is to believe in the Uber of Southeast Asia, Grab, 28 percent of which was owned by Uber. And it is to believe in the Uber of China, Didi Chuxing, 20 percent of which was owned by Uber.

A year ago, Uber was also reportedly interested in selling its India operations to Ola, since they both have a common investor: SoftBank. Uber may also sell its food delivery business UberEats to Indian competitor Swiggy in India.

Uber’s US competitor Lyft also IPOs next month.

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