German chauffeur service Blacklane eyes Middle East expansion in line with IPO

Shareholders Abu Dhabi-based Al Fahim Group will take part in financing the $10-$20m expansion plan ahead of floatation over next three years
German chauffeur service Blacklane eyes Middle East expansion in line with IPO
Half of Blacklane's business is currently conducted in Europe, while about a third is done in the US and the rest in the Middle East and Asia.
By Lubna Hamdan
Wed 01 May 2019 11:42 AM

German chauffeur service Blacklane is expanding into 20 cities in the Middle East this year, including Cairo, as it plans an initial public offering (IPO) over the next three years, its CEO Jens Wohltorf told Reuters.

The Berline-based company will invest $10-$20 million in the expansion that it will finance alongside shareholders, which include Abu Dhabi-based Al Fahim Group and German carmaker Daimler AG.

Half of its business is currently conducted in Europe, while about a third is done in the US and the rest in the Middle East and Asia.

Its flotation would follow that of larger ride-hailing competitors including US-based giant Lyft, which listed last month with a $24.3 billion valuation, and Uber, which is planning an IPO at a $80.5-$91.5  billion valuation.

“This would be a natural evolution of our business model and our traction to IPO in the next years to come. That’s pretty realistic,” Wohltorf said on the sidelines of Arabian Travel Market in Dubai, declining to share more details.

Premium car company Blacklane, which operates across 300 cities in 60 countries, competes with rivals Addison Lee in the UK and UberBLACK, the luxury arm of Uber, which, in comparison, is available in over 600 cities worldwide.

While Blacklane’s core driver service was profitable, the company was not, as Wohltorf said it is currently focusing on expanding in areas such as airport express services.

“If we decide we don’t want to grow one hundred and twenty percent year over year anymore, but slower, we could immediately turn it around,” he said.

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