Daily Management Review

Saudi Arabia's Sovereign Wealth Fund to Invest $3.5 billion in Uber


06/02/2016




Saudi Arabia's Sovereign Wealth Fund to Invest $3.5 billion in Uber
Uber has been able to gain a crucial partner in its efforts at expansion into the Middle East countries in the way of Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund as the cab hailing company managed to raise $3.5 billion from Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund, announced the U.S. ride-hailing service on Wednesday.
 
Making Uber the the most highly valued venture capital-backed company in the world, the company said that the investment from the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund was a part of Uber's most recent financing round that valued the company at $62.5 billion.
 
The investment was described as a "vote of confidence in our business" by the Uber co-founder and Chief Executive Officer Travis Kalanick in a written statement that announced the gaining of the investment.
 
The company said that the board of Uber will have to accommodate a new member from the investors - a managing director at the Saudi fund, Yasir Al Rumayyan, as part of the investment agreement. Benchmark Capital general partner Bill Gurley and Huffington Post co-founder Arianna Huffington are the other members on the board of Uber.
 
The total balance sheet of Uber now stands at more than $11 billion, including cash and debt, following the investment from the Saudi wealth fund, said Uber. 
 
As technology based companies such as Uber face greater scrutiny over their valuations, there has been a contraction in the investment climate for companies in recent months and the latest results of the funding round indicate a departure from the startup investing climate that seems to be prevalent at the moment.
  
Even as other tech firms are downsizing to weather a funding drought, some of the most high-profile companies with mass consumer adoption can still demand investor dollars and this is shown by the latest investment round for Uber which has managed to get investments. Among such IT companies which managed to garner investments is Snapchat which last week disclosed a $1.81 billion successful funding raise.
 
Uber has grown aggressively in Middle East and North Africa and the company now operates in nine countries and 15 cities in the region. The U.S. Company has said that the funds raised from the latest round of funding would be committed to investing $250 million in this region to augment business dveleopment and expansion.
 
However local ride-hailing startups such as Careem, which operates in 20 cities across the Middle East region has been providing competition to Uber in a manner observed in other regions including China and India where Uber is facing similar competition.
 
Noting a five-fold jump from the first quarter of 2015, Uber had more than 395,000 active riders across the Middle East region in the first quarter of the year. In addition to this the company also has 19,000 active drivers which represents a four-fold increase over the same period last year.
 
Uber says that about 80 percent of its more than 130,000 riders in Saudi Arabia are women, in a country where the company has been operational since early 2014.
 
(Source:www.reuters.com) 






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