Alwaleed’s Kingdom Backs Uber Merger Talks With Dubai Rival

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Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal, Saudi billionaire and founder of Kingdom Holding Co., poses for a photograph in the penthouse office of Kingdom Holding Co., following his release from 83 days of detention in the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal, Saudi billionaire and founder of Kingdom Holding Co., poses for a photograph in the penthouse office of Kingdom Holding Co., following his release from 83 days of detention in the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on Sunday, March 18, 2018. Alwaleed was the most prominent among hundreds of Saudi businessmen, government officials and princes who were swept up in November in what the government called a crackdown on corruption. Photographer: Guy Martin/Bloomberg

Kingdom Holding Co., one of Careem Networks FZ’s biggest backers, supports a potential merger between the Middle East ride-hailing firm and Uber Technologies Inc., according to the head of Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal’s investment firm.

“We don’t interfere nor are we party to the discussions, and if it ever happens I think we are supportive of it yes,” Chief Executive Officer Talal Bin Ibrahim Al Maiman said in an interview at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

Uber is in talks to acquire Careem to help the ride-hailing giant expand in the Middle East in a deal that could value the Dubai-based firm at $2 billion to $2.5 billion, people with knowledge of the plans said in September. Saudi billionaire Alwaleed joined a $500 million-fundraising round by Careem in 2017 and invested again in October. Kingdom Holding also has a seat on the company’s board.

Spin Off

Separately, Kingdom Holding may be ready to spin off some of its real-estate investments next year, but is currently focusing on developing new projects, Al Maiman said. “We are not yet into the spinning mode, we are in development mode,” he said.

Prince Alwaleed, in an interview with Bloomberg in March, said he was considering splitting Kingdom Holding’s domestic property portfolio and some other assets from the main investment firm.

The company has also signed term sheets for a $1 billion loan with two local banks and four international lenders, Al Maiman said.