Uber scales back in Pakistan

Uber is scaling back its operations in Pakistan, the latest in a series of efforts from the ride-hailing firm as it looks to improve its financial performance.

The company says its marquee app is ceasing operations in five of the six cities where Uber had launched and expanded over the years. The eponymous service will now only be available in Lahore in Pakistan, Uber said.

Uber insists that it remains committed to Pakistan, and its subsidiary brand, Careem, will offer services in Karachi, Multan, Faisalabad, Peshawar and Islamabad. The move will nonetheless impact several jobs.

Uber says it will help some driver partners switch over to Careem. It did not specify the number of jobs that will get eliminated as part of the decision.

“We know this is a difficult time for the teams who have worked incredibly hard to build this business over the past few years,” the company said in blog post. “We greatly appreciate everyone’s contributions and our priority is to minimize the impact to our employees, drivers, riders, and Hero partners who use the Uber app during this change in Karachi, Islamabad, Faisalabad, Multan and Peshawar.”

Uber’s abrupt decision came as a surprise to local residents. Uber entered Pakistan in early 2016 as part of a $250 million push to expand into the Middle East and North Africa. The company has faced tough competition from InDrive and Prosus Ventures-backed Bykea in the nation in recent quarters.

The company, which aggressively expanded to dozens of nations half a decade ago, has slowed its investments in many markets. In India, a key overseas market for the firm, Uber offloaded its Uber Eats delivery business to Zomato, a local rival, and sold its shares in the company recently at an assumed unrealized loss of $707 million.

Media reports in recent months have speculated that Uber might sell its India ride-hailing business to rival Ola, a claim both firms have denied.