Uber’s arch-rival, Careem eyes for an IPO

Analysts value Careem at an eye-watering $ 1.5 billion with investors in the likes of Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed

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DUBAI: Careem Networks FZ, which competes with Uber Technologies Inc. in the Middle East, is in early talks with banks about a potential initial public offering, according to people familiar with the matter.

The Dubai-based ride-hailing company started preliminary discussions as it prepares to hire financial advisers, the people said, asking not to be identified because the information is private. The firm could be valued at about $ 1.5 billion, with a share sale likely by early 2019, one of the people said. Banks have not been appointed and the company may decide not to pursue the listing, the people said.

While an IPO is a “natural milestone” for a fast-growing business like Careem, the company is currently focused on expanding its operations to more markets, Chief Executive Officer Mudassir Sheikha said in an emailed response to questions.

Careem was valued at more than $ 1 billion in 2016 when it raised $ 350 million from investors including Japanese e-commerce giant Rakuten Inc. and Germany’s Daimler AG. Saudi Arabian billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, who was detained in November as part of a government investigation into allegations of corruption, is also an investor in the company.

The ride-hailing company, founded in 2012, may sell shares to the public by 2019 sources told Bloomberg.