Dubai-based transport startup Swvl to buy Uber-like service

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Aug 18 - Dubai-based transport startup Swvl has agreed to buy Shotl, an Uber-like service for buses and van operators that caters to municipalities, corporations and educational institutions, a source familiar with the matter told Reuters.

Founded in 2017 in Egypt, Swvl operates a fixed platform that allows passengers to compare and pay tickets with service operators along digital routes.

The source who declined to be identified because the talks are not public yet, did not disclose the financial terms of the deal.

The deal is the latest in the transport technology sector as companies look to raise heft or add money through public listings.

Grab, Southeast Asia's largest ride hailing-to-food delivery group, is gearing to go public through a merger worth nearly $40 billion with a blank check firm. Didi Global Inc also raised $4.4 billion in its initial public offering in June in the U.S.

Swvl last month agreed to merge with blank checking firm Queen's Gambit Growth Capital, setting the stage for a Nasdaq listing in the fourth quarter of this year.

The company operates today in 10 cities in six countries and makes more than 3 million trips per month, a number it seeks to increase to 2 million a day by 2025.

Shotl will serve as Swvl's hub in Europe and more than double the company’s geographic footprint according to the source. Shotl operates in 22 cities across 10 countries, including Brazil and Japan.

The deal also provides Swvl with an entry point into autonomous driving projects, mainly by Shotl's participation in a project led by the European Commission to demonstrate the impact of self-driving minibuses on future public transport networks.

It expects to turn its first profit in 2024, its chief financial officer Youssef Salem told Reuters earlier this month.

Swvl, which has a network of 5,000 buses, 3,000 of which are now in Egypt, expects to expand into other activities such as logistics, advertising and financial services beginning in 2023.