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Thursday, 19 August 2021

Swvl will expand into Europe through Shotl acquisition

Swvl to acquire Europe’s answer to on-demand shuttles: Mass transportation startup Swvl has agreed to acquire Barcelona-based “multiservice collective mobility platform” (how’s that for a mouthful?) Shotl, an unnamed source with direct knowledge of the transaction tells Reuters. The source did not disclose details on the timeline or value of the acquisition as the talks are not yet public.

If completed, the takeover would see Shotl serve as Swvl’s HQ in Europe — and would more than double Swvl’s geographic footprint, with the European startup operating in 22 cities across 10 countries, including Brazil and Japan. A senior source at Swvl had previously told us the company plans to tap into “at least 50 new markets in the short term,” while founder Mostafa Kandil had recently said the company was mulling the acquisition of an unnamed firm in Europe.

The Shotl acquisition would also mark Swvl’s entry into the self-driving game: Swvl and Shotl will together take part in a European Commission-led project designed to showcase how autonomous buses can have a positive impact on the future of public transport, the source told Reuters.

SPAC-tastic: Swvl said last month it would go public on the Nasdaq in 4Q2021 through a merger with blank-check firm Queen’s Gambit Growth Capital. The agreement values the company at around USD 1.5 bn, and the listing will raise the company’s capital to USD 550 mn from USD 100+ mn today. Swvl is also mulling an IPO on the EGX in 2022-2023 and expects to become profitable for the first time in 2024, CFO Youssef Salem previously told Reuters.

“What’s Shotl,” we hear you ask? Established in 2017, Shotl is an on-demand bus platform that incorporates a “demand responsive transport system” that focuses on underserved or difficult to reach areas. Crunchbase suggests the company has raised nearly USD 1.1 mn in two rounds.

What’s next for Swvl? The company says it will, starting 2023, begin expanding into sectors such as logistics, advertising and financial services.

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