April 29, 2019 / 12:23 PM / 25 days ago

German chauffeur service Blacklane plans IPO within three years

DUBAI (Reuters) - German chauffeur service Blacklane is planning an initial public offering (IPO) in the next three years, its chief executive told Reuters, as it strives to build its position in the fast-growing premium taxi market.

Any flotation would follow those of larger ride-hailing rivals. U.S. group Lyft listed last month with a valuation of $24.3 billion, while Uber is planning an IPO that values the company at $80.5-$91.5 billion.

“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,” Blacklane CEO Jens Wohltorf said in an interview on the sidelines of a tourism fair in Dubai. He declined to provide any details.

Blacklane, which competes with the likes of British premium car service Addison Lee and UberBLACK, the ride-hailing app’s luxury arm, caters to business customers in 300 cities in 60 countries.

Uber, by comparison, says it is available in more than 600 cities worldwide.

Blacklane is expanding into 20 cities in the Middle East this year, including Cairo, Wohltorf said.

It will invest $10-$20 million in the expansion, financed by the company and its shareholders, which include German premium carmaker Daimler AG and Abu Dhabi-based Al Fahim Group, he added.

Wohltorf said Blacklane’s core driver service was profitable, but that overall the company was not because it was 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.

Blacklane currently does around half of its business in Europe, with about a third in the United States and the rest in the Middle East and Asia.

(This story changes billion to million in paragraph 7)

Reporting by Nafisa Eltaher; Editing by Mark Potter

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