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Uber raises US$3.5b from Saudi investment fund
[SAN FRANCISCO] Uber announced on Wednesday it raised US$3.5 billion from the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia to help fuel global expansion plans for the ride-sharing giant.
The deal gives Uber, already one of the largest venture-funded startups, a valuation, or implied value, of US$62.5 billion, according to the company.
The deal will help Uber's global expansion, including in the Middle East and North Africa, which the company sees as one of its fastest-growing regions.
The deal calls for the head of the Saudi fund, Yasir Al Rumayyan, to join the Uber board, and will boost's Uber's cash holdings to more than US$11 billion.
"We appreciate the vote of confidence in our business as we continue to expand our global presence," Uber chief executive Travis Kalanick said in a statement.
"Our experience in Saudi Arabia is a great example of how Uber can benefit riders, drivers and cities and we look forward to partnering to support their economic and social reforms." Mr Rumayyan said in a statement that the fund "is excited to have completed this important strategic investment with Uber, an extraordinary company with an inspiring mission."
"We've seen first-hand how this company has improved urban mobility around the world and we're looking forward to being part of that progress," he added.
Mr Rumayyan added that the plan fits with the kingdom's Vision 2030 the blueprint for diversifying its economy away from oil.
"This ambitious and far-reaching plan presents a number of goals, including unlocking strategic sectors such as tourism and entertainment, boosting employment opportunities and women's participation in the workforce, and encouraging entrepreneurship," he added.
According to a fact sheet from Uber, the company is committed to investing US$250 million in the region which includes Egypt, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Bahrain, Qatar and Morocco.
In Saudi Arabia, according to the fact sheet, around 80 per cent of Uber's riders are women. Uber says its expansion can help boost entrepreneurship and improve mobility for women, who cannot drive in the country and typically avoid public taxis.
San Francisco-based Uber has expanded to hundreds of cities worldwide, despite complaints from established taxi operators and regulators in many areas.