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June 28, 2019

Ride-hailing UAE deal will put Uber in the driving seat in the Middle East

By Richard Thompson

The UAE’s Economy Ministry (MoE) has approved the upcoming acquisition of Dubai-based ride-hailing firm Careem by the US’ Uber Technologies.

The US$3.1 billion acquisition, consisting of $1.7 billion in convertible notes and $1.4 billion in cash, was announced in March.

Under the UAE’s Competition Law, ministerial approval is required prior to the completion of a merger or acquisition to ensure it “does not lead to the dominance or control of the corresponding markets … at rates exceeding the percentages stipulated by law”.

Both firms said in March that they expected to close the transaction in the first quarter of 2020. Upon closing, Careem will become a wholly owned subsidiary of Uber, preserving its brand. Uber will acquire all of Careem’s mobility, delivery and payments businesses across the Middle East region. In addition to the UAE, Careem has major operations in Egypt, Jordan, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.

It is understood 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 from Careem. The local subsidiary of US-based Jefferies acted as exclusive financial adviser to Careem on the transaction.

The sale is the largest-ever technology-related transaction in the Middle East. In 2018, the US’ Amazon acquired Dubai-based online retail platform Souq.com for $650 million.

This article is sourced from Verdict Technology sister publication www.meed.com, a leading source of high-value business intelligence and economic analysis about the Middle East and North Africa. To access more MEED content register for the 30-day Free Guest User Programme.