Saudi fund's $3.5bn investment adds to Uber's massive cash pile

The company has faced a backlash in a number of EU countries...

Saudi fund's $3.5bn investment adds to Uber's massive cash pile

File photo. Image: Andrew Matthews / PA Wire/Press Association Images

Saudi Arabia’s Sovereign Wealth Fund is investing $3.5bn in the taxi and ride-hailing app company, Uber, this is the largest single investment that has been made in the private company.

Uber maintains its valuation of $62.5bn and has no plans to go public.

The deal solidifies Uber’s place as the most well-funded start-up company in the world and brings total finance raised to more than $11bn as it expands aggressively in more than 70 countries around the globe, it says that this cash will be used to fund the company's continued international expansion.

Uber already operates in five Saudi cities where it is particularly popular with women who cannot drive under Saudi law.

"We appreciate the vote of confidence in our business as we continue to expand our global presence," Uber CEO Travis Kalanick said.

"Our experience in Saudi Arabia is a great example of how Uber can benefit riders, drivers and cities and we look forward to partnering to support their economic and social reforms," he continued.

Uber is facing bans in Belgium, Germany, France and the Netherlands and has sparked violent protests in some regions.

On Monday the EU said that bans on Uber and other 'sharing economy' based businesses such as Airbnb should only be used as a "last resort."

Ireland's Department of Transport has signalled that it is not in favour of Uber Pop launching here.

Uber Pop allows casual vetted drivers to use the app to offer people lifts for money - without being a licensed taxi driver.

Taxi app Hailo has voiced its support for the Department of Transport's recommendation to not extend permission to Uber to offer ride-sharing services which go beyond those offered by traditional taxi firms.

Tim Arnold, Hailo's general manager for Ireland said that, "ride-sharing, and the substantial lowering of standards that it would entail, amounts to a race to the bottom on quality and price that would jeopardise passenger safety."

A brief prepared for the Minister for Transport by civil servants signalled strong official resistance to most of Uber's services. In other regions apps like Uber allow unlicensed taxi drivers offer lifts for money.

Kieran Harte, general manager of Uber for Ireland and Northern Ireland said that the company will continue to engage with the Department and that its services are "reliable" and "safe."

Irish laws currently require anyone offering transport in a car for money to hold a taxi licence. The limited Uber service which is offered in Ireland uses registered taxi drivers.