16 Jan 2024 09:48

MTS raises stake in scooter rental service Urent to 80.6% from 12%

MOSCOW. Jan 16 (Interfax) - Mobile TeleSystems (MTS) has become the controlling shareholder of scooter rental service Urent by increasing its stake in the owner of the service, Urentbank.ru LLC, to 80.58%, the Russian mobile provider's head of digital products, Maxim Laptev said in an interview with Interfax.

He said the deal was signed at the end of December and valued Urent at "about 7 billion-8 billion rubles." He did not disclose the price of the transaction, saying that the "final amount of payments is linked to the company's performance."

Urentbank.ru LLC was incorporated in 2018. The Urent electric scooter and bicycle rental service, which was founded by Ivan Turinge (CEO), Andrei Kolesnik and Andrei Kalinin, operates in 124 Russian cities and has a fleet of about 100,000 scooters and 3 million users.

MTS, along with Web Ventures and VPE Capital, became a shareholder of Urent at the beginning of 2022 in an investment round that totalled 2 billion rubles. The SPARK-Interfax system showed that MTS held an 11.77% stake in Urenbank.ru.

The other shareholders of Urentbank.ru are Olga Stefanyuk with 29.5%, Urban Mobility LLC with 18.75%, Andrei Azarov with 8.77%, Vyacheslav Ushakov with 4.34%, Mikhail Geisherik with 3.08%, Andrei Kalinin with 2.91%, Andrei Vinogradov with 1.91% and venture capital fund Sistema Smarttech with 8.37%. Russian investment group Sistema PJSFC launched the latter in 2020 but sold it in September 2023.

After the deal with MTS, the other 20% of shares in Urent will be retained by financial investors and founders, Laptev said.

Upon completion of the transaction, MTS intends to maintain Urent as an independent business but with greater integration into the MTS ecosystem, Laptev said.

Urent's GMV grew by more than 50% to over 7 billion rubles in 2023 and EBITDA rose by 100-150%. In a year Urent could become an operationally self-sustaining business and start generating a profit, Laptev said.

Urent now has a 30-40% share of Russia's micromobility market based on its total size of 20 billion rubles by GMV.

"Our objective is to grow Urent's share to 40-45% by 2027, when the size of the market will reach 60 billion-80 billion rubles. That is, a 40% share on a 70-billion market is already a significant business for the MTS group. Such a market size will mean that micromobility has not just become a means for excursion recreation, so-called city sightseeing, but a standard form of transport, where you ride a scooter from work to home or from home to the metro," Laptev said.

He said urban mobility will become a new business area for MTS that will enable the group to meet a basic need such getting from point A to point B.

"We are keeping Urent as a separate business, but we will, of course, weave the marketing and digital tracks into the MTS ecosystem. There will be ID, seamless authorization, a link to a card and the use of points," Laptev said.

MTS also plans to retain Urent's team, which will continue to be led by CEO Ivan Turinge, and some shareholders will stay on as advisors.