Uber is reportedly in 'advanced talks' to buy its biggest rival in the Middle East for $3 billion

  • Uber is in "advanced talks" to buy Careem, a ride-hailing company in the Middle East, Bloomberg reported Tuesday.
  • In an interview last week, Careem's CEO seemed to hint that an acquisition was not in the cards.
  • Still, given the unique challenges of the Middle East, a buyout could make sense for Uber.

Uber is in "advanced talks" to buy its largest Middle Eastern competitor, CareemBloomberg News reported Thursday.

The deal could value Careem at $3 billion, sources tell Bloomberg, which is higher than the company's latest valuation of about $2 billion in private fundraising.

Both Uber and Careem declined to issue a comment to Business Insider regarding the Bloomberg report. However, Careem CEO Mudassir Sheikha seemed to rule out an acquisition in an interview last week. 

RELATED: Take a look at Uber's former CEO Travis Kalanick: 

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Former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick speaks to students during an interaction at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) campus in Mumbai, India, January 19, 2016.

(REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui)

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick gestures as he addresses a gathering during a conference of start-up businesses in New Delhi, India, January 16, 2016.

(REUTERS/Adnan Abidi)

Chief Executive Officer of Uber Travis Kalanick and Gabi Holzwarth arrive at the Google, HBO and the Smithsonian?s American Art Museum ?Celebration of Creativity? cocktail party to celebrate the White House Correspondents' Association dinner weekend in Washington, U.S., April 29, 2016.

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Uber CEO Travis Kalanick attends the summer World Economic Forum in Tianjin, China, June 26, 2016.

(REUTERS/Shu Zhang)

India?s Minister of Law and Information and Technology Ravi Shankar Prasad shakes hands with Uber CEO Travis Kalanick before the start of their meeting in New Delhi, India, December 15, 2016.

(REUTERS/Adnan Abidi)

Uber Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Travis Kalanick works with fourth graders during Cooking Matters, a nutrition class taught by 18 Reasons, a local partner of Share our Strength at Glen Park Elementary School in San Francisco, California, December 10, 2014.

(REUTERS/Beck Diefenbach)

Uber Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Travis Kalanick (2nd R) works with fourth graders during Cooking Matters, a nutrition class taught by 18 Reasons, a local partner of Share our Strength at Glen Park Elementary School in San Francisco, California, December 10, 2014.

(REUTERS/Beck Diefenbach)

Dieter Zetsche, chief executive officer of Daimler AG, left, and Travis Kalanick, billionaire and chief executive officer of Uber Technologies Inc., listen before speaking during the Noah technology conference in Berlin, Germany, on Wednesday, June 8, 2016. The conference, one of the tech industry's premier events, was launched in 2009 and runs June 8-9.

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Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of US transportation company Uber Travis Kalanick at an event in New Delhi.

(Photo by Ramesh Sharma/India Today Group/Getty Images)

Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor to U.S. President Barack Obama, left, speaks as Travis Kalanick, billionaire and chief executive officer of Uber Technologies Inc., listens during the 2016 Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) at Stanford University in Stanford, California, U.S., on Thursday, June 23, 2016. The annual event brings together entrepreneurs from around the world for 3 days of networking, workshops and conferences.

(David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Travis Kalanick, billionaire and chief executive officer of Uber Technologies Inc., looks on during the Noah technology conference in Berlin, Germany, on Wednesday, June 8, 2016. The conference, one of the tech industry's premier events, was launched in 2009 and runs June 8-9.

(Krisztian Bocsi/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Uber founder Travis Kalanick attends 'Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology', the 2016 Costume Institute Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 02, 2016 in New York, New York.

(Photo by Taylor Hill/FilmMagic)

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"We've only addressed 1 to 2% of our addressable market," the founder said by phone from Dubai. "We're still very early in the opportunity.

"We are continuing to fundraise," he continued. "We have enough cash on hand to fund our business plan, but our ambition keeps on getting bigger so we are getting into more things than initially anticipated."

Sheikha also said that it would be hard for a global competitor like Uber to successfully compete in such a unique market, like the Middle East. In that view, at least, the purchase could make sense for Uber.

"For a global competitor to come in and start providing a service to the top 2-3 percent of the population is not difficult — they're used to the convenience," said Sheikha. "But as soon as you start going down the masses, you require a lot of tailoring"

You can read his full interview with Business Insider here.

SEE ALSO: The CEO of Careem explains how the company is scaling up to beat Uber in a quickly growing market

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