Uber sells food delivery business in India to Zomato

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Uber said on Tuesday it has sold its food delivery business, Uber Eats, in India to local rival Zomato as the American ride-hailing giant races to shed lossmaking operations to become profitable by next year.

As part of the deal, Uber would own 9.99% of Zomato and its Eats users would become part of the Indian company, the two loss-making firms said. The deal valued Uber Eats’ India business between $160 million and $200 million*, two people familiar with the matter told TechCrunch.

TechCrunch reported last month that the two were in advanced stages of talks for a deal. Indian newspaper Times of India first signaled about the two companies’ talks in November.

Satish Meena, an analyst at Forrester, told TechCrunch that despite the Uber deal, Zomato still lags local rival Swiggy,  which services more number of orders each day. Backed by Prosus Ventures,  Swiggy raised $1 billion in late 2018.

“Our Uber Eats team in India has achieved an incredible amount over the last two years, and I couldn’t be prouder of their ingenuity and dedication,” said Dara Khosrowshahi, chief executive of Uber, in a statement.

Uber Eats, which entered India in 2017, initiated conversations to sell the local business in late 2018, said people familiar with the matter.

“India remains an exceptionally important market to Uber and we will continue to invest in growing our local Rides business, which is already the clear category leader. We have been very impressed by Zomato’s ability to grow rapidly in a capital-efficient manner and we wish them continued success,” he added.

According to industry estimates, Uber is not the “clear category leader” in India. That title belongs to Ola, which processes twice as many rides as Uber in India and has presence in 110 cities, compared to the American firm’s roughly three-dozen.

As for Uber Eats employees in India, some of them have been given the option to join Uber while rest will be let go, people familiar with the matter told TechCrunch.

The announcement comes amidst of Zomato’s new financing round. The 11-year-old Indian firm last month raised $150 million from Ant Financial and says it is looking to secure another $400 million in the next few weeks.

Offloading Uber Eats India would help Uber, which left Southeast Asia last year, reduce its global losses. The company, which cut hundreds of jobs last year, reported a quarterly loss of more than $1 billion in November. In the prior quarter, it lost about $5.2 billion. Uber says that it aims to become profitable by 2021.

The ride-hailing giant projected a loss of $107.5 million for its Uber Eats business in India for the period between August and December of last year. Zomato, too, has been reducing its burn rate. The company, which as of 2018 was losing more than $40 million each month, has cut its monthly loss to $20 million, Info Edge, one of the investors in Zomato, told analysts in an earnings call in November.

*Update: The story was updated to change the valuation of Uber Eats’ India business. An earlier version of the story pegged the deal to be worth $300 million to $350 million.

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