Ride-hailing service provider Uber said it has raised US$3.5 billion from Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, gaining a crucial partner in its expansion into the Middle East.
The investment from the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund was part of Uber’s most recent financing round that valued the company at US$62.5 billion, Uber said, making it the most highly valued venture capital-backed company in the world, Reuters reports.
In a written statement, Uber co-founder and chief executive Travis Kalanick called the investment a “vote of confidence in our business”.
As part of the investment, a managing director at the Saudi fund, Yasir Al Rumayyan, will take a seat on Uber’s board, the company said.
Other board members include Benchmark Capital general partner Bill Gurley and Huffington Post co-founder Arianna Huffington.
Uber said the Saudi investment puts the company’s total balance sheet, including cash and debt, at more than US$11 billion.
The funding round is a departure from the startup investing climate, which has seen contraction in recent months as technology companies face greater scrutiny over their valuations.
It shows that the some of the most high-profile companies with mass consumer adoption – among them also Snapchat, which last week disclosed a US$1.81 billion funding raise – can still demand investor dollars, even as other tech firms are downsizing to weather a funding drought.
Uber has committed to investing US$250 million in the Middle East and North Africa, where it has grown aggressively and is now operating in nine countries and 15 cities in the region, the report said.
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