Careem, Uber’s main Middle East rival, is looking at raising between $100 million and $200 million from Chinese investors, a source with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters.
Investment bank China International Capital Corporation (CICC) is advising Dubai-based Careem, but it was not immediately clear when or if a deal would be finalised, the source said, adding there was a lack of familiarity and interest among Chinese investors in Middle Eastern start-ups.
Beijing-based CICC and Careem both declined to comment.
It was reported that CICC and New York-based investment bank Jefferies were both advising Careem on potential investment options and capital raising, including a possible Middle East M&A deal with Uber.
Careem, which counts German car maker Daimler and China’s largest ride-hailing company DiDi Chuxing among its other backers, competes head-to-head with Uber in most of the major cities in the Middle East.
Careem said in October it had secured $200 million in a new funding round from existing investors, and that it expected to raise more to finance expansion plans.
That investment, combined with previous fund raising and company growth into new markets and segments, gave Careem an estimated valuation of more than $2 billion. Reuters reported in March that Careem was in early talks to raise as much as $500 million.
Mideast ride-hailing firm Careem working with Jefferies
Reuters reported that Careem has also been working with investment bank Jefferies as an adviser on investment options and fundraising, including a potential mergers and acquisition deal in the region with Uber Technologies Inc, three sources familiar with the matter said.
The appointment of Jefferies indicates that talks on a potential deal have become more serious, two of the sources said.
As reported by the media, a person familiar with the talks between Uber and DiDi, which have been ongoing for months, said Uber is interested in a deal providing them with a majority, controlling stake in Careem.