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Uber News: Saudi Arabia Invests, Walmart Grocery Delivery, Car Lease Business

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Uber Technologies Inc. , the ride-hailing start-up giant, recently announced that it has received a cash infusion from Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund, the main investment fund in the kingdom.

How much was that cash infusion? $3.5 billion.

This most recent investment was part of Uber's latest round of funding, which totaled over $5 billion and valued the company at roughly $62.5 billion, further cementing the company's status as the most valuable tech start-up in the world.

In a statement, Uber said that Saudi Arabia's $3.5 billion stake is its biggest investment from a single investor, bringing the company's total balance sheet of cash and convertible debt to over $11 billion. Uber first started operating in Saudi Arabia back in 2014.

CEO Travis Kalanick also said that Uber is partnering with Saudi Arabia to both support the kingdom's social and economic reforms; the kingdom's investment is in line with its recently announced Vision 2030 , a plan to reduce its dependence on oil over the next 15 years.

Managing director of the Public Investment Fund Yasir Al Rumayyan will join Uber's board of directors. The deal will not cash out any of Uber's existing investors.

Walmart Testing Grocery Delivery

Utilizing both Uber and its main rival Lyft, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. WMT ) will begin testing grocery delivery in an effort to compete with Amazon.com Inc. AMZN and other e-commerce companies. Michael Bender, Walmart's chief operating officer of e-commerce, said the retail giant will start testing Uber in Phoenix and Lyft in Denver within the next two weeks.

Walmart has offered grocery delivery before, using Deliv to deliver Sam's Club groceries and other merchandise in Miami, as well as offering home delivery in Denver and San Jose, California.

The idea of this new delivery program is that customers will pick out their groceries, employees will fill the order, and then one of the ride-hailing companies' drivers will deliver the order. Shoppers will pay $7-$10 in delivery charges to Walmart in order to have groceries delivered to their door.

"We'll start small and let our customers guide us, but testing new things like last-mile delivery allow us to better evaluate the various ways we can best serve our customers how, when and where they need us," Bender said.

Uber Offering Short-Term Car Leases

Through a wholly-owned Delaware-based subsidiary called Xchange Leasing, LLC, Uber has been offering short-term leases to drivers who need cars. Xchange Leasing partners with auto dealerships, manages risk, advertises to drivers, and pays repo men to track down drivers who are not making their car payments.

According to Bloomberg , "Xchange may be key to Uber's continued expansion as it tangles with Lyft in the U.S. and a bevy of competitors abroad.This year, Uber said its financing and discount programs, which include Xchange, will put more than 100,000 drivers on the road. That requires dipping into the vast pool of people with bad or no credit."

Xchange received $1 billion in credit to fund new car leases from Goldman Sachs, Bloomberg reports. This deal could help Uber grow its burgeoning auto leasing business, as well as give some of the world's largest financial institutions exposure to its auto leases. The $1 billion in credit is what Xchange can use to lease out cars to Uber drivers.

"Uber's lease is more flexible than most subprime leases," the company said. After the first 30 days of the lease, a driver has the option to return the car to Uber with two weeks' notice, and there will be no extra fees (except the money they owe as well as the $250 up front payment). Xchange won't charge drivers by the mile if they exceed a specific mileage threshold, since Uber wants to motivate drivers to keep tracking miles.

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.


The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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