Exclusive-Uber in talks with Mideast unit over outside investment - sources

DUBAI (Reuters) - Uber Technologies is in talks with the management of its Middle East unit Careem to bring outside investors into the business, four sources familiar with the matter said.

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Careem’s ownership structure following the planned investment was not immediately clear, though sources said Uber would remain a shareholder while giving Careem’s management greater decision-making power over its strategy.

The investment would help finance the further roll-out of Careem’s so-called Super App, two of the sources said, which offers services outside its core ride-hailing business such as food delivery, digital payments and courier services.

One of the sources said Careem’s management wanted to build on its Super App - of which co-founder and Chief Executive Mudassir Sheikha has long been a proponent - while Uber was focused on ride-hailing.

Uber and Careem both declined the comment.

The planned move comes just over two years after Uber bought its Dubai-headquartered rival, which operates predominantly in the Middle East, for $3.1 billion, keeping the brand and app intact.

Former McKinsey executive Sheikha co-founded Careem in 2012 and continued to serve as CEO following Uber’s 2019 takeover.

It was not immediately clear how much investment would be sought, though one of the sources said Careem would focus on growing its payments and delivery businesses with the new funds.

Eventually the new Careem business could be listed, one of the sources said.

Uber’s 2019 acquisition of Careem gave the U.S. company market dominance across the Middle East and Pakistan ahead of its initial public offering in the same year that raised $8.1 billion from investors and valued the company at $82.4 billion.

Southeast Asia’s biggest ride-hailing and delivery firm Grab, which also describes itself as a super app, last week went public following a record $40 billion merger with a blank-check company.

Additional reporting by Saeed Azhar; Editing by Jan Harvey