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Uber Technologies snapped-up middle east ride-sharing rival Careem Tuesday in a $3.1 billion deal ahead of its stock market listing that could value the world's most expensive start-up at more than $120 billion.

Uber will pay $1.4 billion in cash, while issuing a $1.7 billion bond issue that will convert into Uber shares at $55 each in order to finance the Careem purchase, the company said in a statement. That's around 13% higher than the value of the firm when it tapped Japan's Softbank Group (SFTBY) for funding in December 2017. The Careem deal opens access to markets from Morocco to Pakistan, Uber said, while the Saudi-backed group will continue to operate under its original brand as a wholly-owned subsidiary led by its original founders.

"This is an important moment for Uber as we continue to expand the strength of our platform around the world," said CEO Dara Khosrowshahi. "With a proven ability to develop innovative local solutions, Careem has played a key role in shaping the future of urban mobility across the Middle East, becoming one of the most successful startups in the region."

Working closely with Careem's founders, I'm confident we will deliver exceptional outcomes for riders, drivers, and cities, in this fast-moving part of the world," Khosrowshahi added.

Multiple media reports suggest Uber will formally file for its initial public offering (IPO) next month, kicking off a listing that would see around 16% of the company floated and could value the ride-hailing firm at as much as $120 billion.

Uber has reportedly tapped several investment banks that include Bank of America (MER-K) , Barclays (BCS) , Citigroup (C - Get Report) , Deutsche Bank (DB - Get Report) and others, and it's planning to add more banks in the coming weeks to build out its roster of underwriters. Uber hired Morgan Stanley (MS - Get Report) and Goldman Sachs (GS - Get Report) to lead the IPO in late 2018.

Uber's ride-hailing rival, Lyft Inc., is expected to go public as soon as this month. Meanwhile, Uber is seeking some flexibility in its IPO timing, Reuters reported, but could also go public in the first half of this year.