Uber makes Middle East move buying Careem for $3.1B

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Uber Technologies is making an acquisition ahead of its expected initial public offering.

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The ride-hailing company is buying Middle Eastern rival Careem Networks for $3.1 billion.

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The purchase of Careem gives Uber access to 400 million customers in the region.

The deal is Uber’s largest acquisition, especially in foreign markets, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Uber doesn’t expect to receive regulatory approval for the deal until early next year.

Uber is paying Careem $1.4 billion in cash and $1.7 billion in notes that will convert at a price of $55 a share.

Careem will help Uber to achieve its goal of having 1 billion users as the company prepares for an IPO that could value it at up to $120 billion.

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Uber’s U.S. rival Lyft will beat the ride-sharing company to the public market this week. Uber is expected to debut in the next few months.

Countries like Saudi Arabia have welcomed ride-hailing companies like Uber and Careem as a way to create jobs and to address existing transport challenges, all with the ultimate aim to help to diversify their oil-dependent economies, according to the Journal.