China's taxi monopoly battle continues, Didi Kuaidi raise $3b

The bid for the monopoly on the Chinese taxi industry continues, as Alibaba and Tencent-funded Didi Kuaidi raises $3 billion, off the back of rival Uber, which recently raised $1.2 billion.
Written by Asha Barbaschow, Contributor

Chinese taxi booking service, Didi Kuaidi, is due to raise $3 billion in its latest round of funding, Bloomberg reported.

Didi Kuaidi is the result of a merger that occurred in February between Tencent-funded mobile taxi-service app Didi Dache, and its rival Kuaidi Dache, which is heavily backed by China's e-commerce giant Alibaba.

According to Bloomberg, a "few hundred million dollars" more will be sought from new investors before the final closing in the coming month.

Bloomberg said that the latest funding round will see Didi Kuaidi valued at $16.5 billion, an additional $1.5 billion above the valuation given in July; whilst controversial rival Uber Technologies has been valued previously at $50 billion.

Both companies are looking for the Chinese market share as the US-based ridesharing app, Uber, also recently raised $1.2 billion in China, in a funding round led by local web giant, Baidu.

Uber's latest funding round was anticipated to partner the news of a public listing in China to raise funds for its expansion plans in the country.

Last month, Liu Zhen -- who oversees the company's strategy in the country -- said Uber could list on the local stock market, and was already looking to raise money from private investors.

In August, China's number one messaging app, WeChat, an essential marketing and promotional platform for Uber, banned Uber accounts on its platform. It was alleged features on its accounts from March were gradually removed in various Chinese cities, including its customer support profile.

WeChat -- alongside the Didi Dache portion of Didi Kuaidi -- is owned by Tencent.

In July, Shanghai local authorities increased fines on both drivers and companies providing ridesharing services.

As a result, drivers in Shanghai who utilise Didi Kuaidi and Uber to provide taxi services face penalties and a 10,000 yuan fine, as well as the suspension of their driver's licence for up to six months. This followed on from China's imposed ban on private cars using Uber earlier this year, which restricted its use to those with a taxi licence.

Meanwhile, the taxi-hailing app platforms will be fined 100,000 yuan for each case as well.

In May, Uber was again put under pressure by Chinese authorities, as two of its headquarters in major Chinese cities were raided by the authorities in the space of a week -- although a spokesperson for Uber told Beijing News that it was just "a routine visit" that would not affect the company's operations. Another raid was carried out by authorities in the south China city of Guangzhou. It was reported that more than 1,000 iPhones at the Guangzhou headquarters were confiscated in the raid.

In the Philippines, GrabTaxi's private car booking service, GrabCar, received accreditation as a Transportation Network Company in July, which made it the first of its kind to be given the nod since the new classification was created earlier this year.

In Indonesia, Uber announced its intentions to formally establish itself as a technology company as a way to avoid legal hurdles, after local police launched an investigation into the company's operations.

"Uber is only a smartphone application," Alan Jiann, head of Uber's operations in Indonesia said at the time. "We don't need a transportation licence, as all we make is a smartphone app that connects riders to drivers."

And in India, the ridesharing market has become increasingly competitive, with the local taxi business estimated to be worth $8.5 to $13 billion.

Bangalore-based "mobile app for personal transportation", Ola Cabs, has joined Uber in tapping into the multi-billion dollar industry. In July, Ola discussed its plans to raise $500 million, and only days later, Uber announced its intention to invest $1 billion over the next nine months to drive its business in India.

According to Uber, India is its largest market outside its domestic US market and also its fastest growing despite the government suspending Uber's services in New Delhi late last year, following the alleged rape of a passenger. It resumed operations six weeks later in January after securing a taxi licence, and relaunched with new built-in safety features in its app, including a panic SOS button.

In December, Shiv Kumar Yadav -- an Uber employee -- was accused of allegedly raping a woman after she had attended a dinner party, and had fallen asleep on her way home. At the time, it was claimed the woman awoke in an unfamiliar, secluded place.

Last week, however, it was reported that the alleged victim had withdrawn her lawsuit against Uber, with local media suggesting the case was settled outside of court.

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