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 finalized, 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.
Reuters reported on Monday 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 carmaker 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 fundraising 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.
Careem is a transportation network company based in Dubai, with operations in over 100 cities in 14 countries in the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia. The company is valued at around $1.2 billion as of 2017. It started operating in July 2012 as a website-based service for corporate car bookings, and evolved to become a transportation network company with car hire for everyday use.
It was announced in February 2018 that Careem has acquired RoundMenu, a restaurant listing and food ordering platform that operates across the Arab world. In August 2018 Careem said they would be launching bus services, starting with cities in Egypt.