Dubai-based ride-sharing company Careem which competes with Uber, acquired RoundMenu, a restaurant listing and food ordering platform that operates across the Arab world, its chief executive said.
"Yes we have acquired RoundMenu," Mudassir Sheikha told The National. He declined to specify the size of the acquisition.
The purchase of RoundMenu "is part of a wider investment into the food delivery category," Careem said in a separate statement. The acquisition will help Careem compete with Uber Eats which was started by the California-based company across the UAE, Egypt and Saudi Arabia - the largest markets in the Middle East and North Africa. Food delivery service Deliveroo from London also competes with both entities.
In operation since 2012, RoundMenu operates in 18 cities across nine countries including Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
RoundMenu was initially funded by HoneyBee Tech Ventures, after which it secured additional backing from Beco Capital, Horeca Trade and Middle East Venture Partners, raising a total of $3.1million, according to Careem's statement.
Careem said it will begin testing a delivery capability for RoundMenu customers on a small scale later this month.
Careem, which was also founded in 2012, serves 12 million customers in 90 cities in Pakistan, Turkey, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt and Morocco. In December 2016, the company raised $350m from investors including Japanese e-commerce leader Rakuten and Saudi Telecom, giving the company a $1 billion valuation.
Careem subsequently attracted a $62m investment from Kingdom Holding, the publicly-listed investment firm of Saudi billionaire businessman Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, which bought a 7.1 per cent stake in June last year.
In July, Careem acquired a minority stake in Swvl, an Egyptian start-up founded by the former Careem executive Mostafa Kandil, which lets passengers reserve seats on buses, and pay their fares through the company’s mobile app. Last August, Careem struck a strategic partnership with China’s Didi Chuxing, with the Asian giant investing in the Dubai company, which will have access to Didi's artificial intelligence expertise.
Careem is mulling a possible entry in a number of new countries in 2018, with East African markets such as Kenya and Uganda under consideration.