Ride-hailing company Careem Networks FZ, which is an Uber competitor in the Middle East, could be on the cusp of raising $500 million from investors.
Bloomberg reported that the Dubai-based startup is aiming to raise money ahead of a potential initial public offering (IPO). If completed, the funding would give the company a valuation as high as $1.5 billion. Careem was valued at around $1 billion in 2016.
Careem is also in the process of hiring financial advisors for its fundraising efforts. The company has the backing of Rakuten, the Japanese eCommerce player, and Daimler, the German automaker. Saudi billionaire Al-Waleed bin Talal’s investment vehicle, Kingdom Holding, and Saudi Telecom Company’s venture capital arm, STV, are also investors in Careem.
In February, Careem acquired RoundMenu, the restaurant listing and reservation platform. According to a report in Reuters at the time, with the acquisition, Careem was to begin testing a delivery capability for RoundMenu customers on a small scale later that month.
The report noted that RoundMenu is currently in 18 cities in nine Arab countries, including Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Egypt. Other food delivery players in the region include Talabat, Zomato, Uber Eats and Deliveroo. RoundMenu has raised $3.1 million since going live in 2012, according to Careem's statement.
In June, Careem reportedly raised $150 million, closing a Series E venture capital funding round with $500 million raised. According to a report in TechCrunch, Mudassir Sheikha, Careem co-founder and CEO, said the new funding round brings the company’s valuation to $1 billion. A separate source told TechCrunch the valuation is now $1.2 billion.
“With our investment in Careem, we are now taking the strategic step to becoming the world’s leading provider of mobility services,” Klaus Entenmann, CEO of Daimler Financial Services AG and also one of the investors, said in a statement at the time. “Careem has quickly leapt to the leadership of ridesharing within the MENA regions by delivering rapid innovation and customer growth, and is spearheading new ways to transport people from point A to point B.”