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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 October 2018

Careem buys India's bus-shuttle app Commut in transport push 

Dubai-based ride-hailing firm to roll out bus services in 100 cities, marking its entry into Indian market

Careem's deal with the Hyderabad-based firm will allow it to provide bus services across the 100 cities it serves. Victor Besa / The National
Careem's deal with the Hyderabad-based firm will allow it to provide bus services across the 100 cities it serves. Victor Besa / The National

Careem, the Dubai-based ride-hailing firm, has acquired Indian bus shuttle service app Commut as the UAE startup expands into the mass transport market.

The deal with the Hyderabad-based firm will allow Careem to provide bus services across the 100 cities it serves, the company said in a statement on Monday. It declined to disclose the value of the deal.

“Mass transportation is one of the biggest issues facing many of the fast growing cities in our region," Magnus Olsson, Careem's co-founder, said. "We are always looking to invest in new technologies and the right people to help solve complex local problems."

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Uber has been in talks with its Middle East rival Careem to explore a potential tie-up, with the San Francisco company leaning towards an acquisition rather than a merger, sources told The National last week. No final decision has been made yet on the deal that may be worth $1.5 billion to $2bn, they said.

Careem will take on Commut's talent and technology while Commut's local operations, including its customers and drives, will be taken over by local shuttle service provider Shuttl.

Commut, which is backed by UK-based Shell-Foundation and 50K Ventures, has taken more than 70,000 customers on trips and has 400 drivers operating across 100 routes in Hyderabad.

The six-year old Dubai company is increasingly expanding beyond its core ride-sharing business into services including the package and food delivery sector after it acquired online restaurant listing platform Roundmenu.

Careem's network spans 100 cities in 14 countries that range from Pakistan to Turkey, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt and Morocco.

The company, which counts German carmaker Daimler as an investor, has also attracted a $62m investment from Kingdom Holding, the Saudi publicly listed investment firm of billionaire Saudi businessman Prince Alwaleed bin Talal.

It also struck a strategic partnership with Chinese ride-hailer and technology conglomerate Didi Chuxing as the Asian giant invested in the Dubai company, which will have access to Didi’s artificial intelligence expertise.