By Jack Denton
Uber has offered more than €1 billion ($1.2 billion) to buy its rival Free Now, jointly owned by BMW and Daimler, according to reports.
Daimler is apparently ready to sell its taxi business to Uber /zigman2/quotes/211348248/composite UBER -2.09% , while BMW Chief Executive Oliver Zipse is more hesitant, and is considering offering Uber a stake in the business, German business publication Manager Magazin said on Wednesday.
An acquisition of Free Now would solidify Uber’s dominance in the European taxi and ride-sharing market.
Free Now was formed in 2019 and is jointly run by Daimler /zigman2/quotes/201850364/delayed XE:DAI -0.25% , which owns Mercedes, and fellow German automotive giant BMW /zigman2/quotes/202432319/delayed XE:BMW -0.07% . It operates in more than 100 European cities and has both conventional taxis and private vehicles, like those hired through Uber, available to users through its app.
Free Now previously only connected riders to London’s iconic black cabs, until it merged with French ride-sharing company Kapten this summer.
Kapten was the U.K.’s second-largest ride-sharing service, and the merger was a direct bid to compete with Uber, which has been under intense scrutiny from regulators.
Last month Uber won an appeal to allow it to continue operating in London for another 18 months. The city’s transport regulator, Transport for London, decided not to renew the company’s private vehicle hire license in November 2019, over concerns about the company’s safety practices. London is Uber’s biggest European market.
MarketWatch has reached out to Uber, Free Now, BMW, and Daimler for comment.