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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 13 December 2018

Chinese Uber-rival Didi Chuxing  gets $4 billion in new funding 

Ride-sharing firm has partnership with Careem, investment from Mubadala

Didi Chuxing's new fundraising round reportedly gives it a valuation of $56 billion. Jason Lee / Reuters
Didi Chuxing's new fundraising round reportedly gives it a valuation of $56 billion. Jason Lee / Reuters

Didi Chuxing, the Chinese ride-hailing app that counts Apple, Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala Investment Company and Japan’s Softbank among its shareholders, has raised US$4 billion in new financing to boost its AI capabilities and fund further international expansion.

“With a substantial cash reserve, DiDi plans to scale up investments in AI talent and technologies, to further build up its intelligent driving and smart transportation capabilities, and to bring more innovative and diversified transportation services to broader communities around the world,” the company said in a statement.

“We will also embark on initiatives in building new energy vehicle service networks, as part of the company’s efforts to lead the transformation of automobile and transportation industries and work towards global energy interconnection.”

The latest round of funding for Didi, the world’s largest ride-sharing company, comes as it looks to step up competition with Uber around the world. The two firms declared a stalemate in China last year following an exhausting price war, with each company agreeing to invest in each other last August.

The funding gives Didi a value of $56bn, making it one of Asia’s largest tech startups, Bloomberg reported, citing people with knowledge of the situation.

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Exclusive: Didi, world’s biggest ride-hailing company, in no hurry for IPO

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Didi president Jean Liu told The National last month the company was in no hurry to raise further money via an initial public offering, noting that the company was well-capitalised and that there was no pressure for a listing from its investors.

The company, which has announced plans to expand internationally earlier this year, establishing an international arm in February.

Uber and Didi compete in each region of the world, including the Middle East, after the Chinese company signed a partnership with UAE-based ride-sharing firm Careem in August. Didi also holds investments in Taxify, which operates in Europe and Africa, Brazil-based 99, as well as US-based Uber rival Lyft.

Didi’s partnership with Careem, which gave it an undisclosed shareholding in the Middle East’s first tech ‘unicorn’, gives Careem access to the Chinese firm’s deep expertise in areas such as artificial intelligence and international markets, as Careem seeks to develop its product and further expand its geographic reach.

Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala Investment and Japanese telecoms firm Softbank participated in Didi’s $5bn funding round in July, and were widely reported to be among the international investors involved in the latest financing.

Mubadala on Thursday declined to say whether it had participated or not in the latest fundraising.

“So far Mubadala has invested US$4-5 billion with Softbank as part of the Vision Fund,” a Mubadala spokesperson told The National.

Mubadala’s investment in Didi is in line with its longstanding tech investment strategy, which has seen it commit $15bn to SoftBank’s high-profile VisionFund and open a venture capital arm in San Francisco, forming part of Abu Dhabi’s economic diversification strategy.

The investment firm entered the tech sector in 2007 with an investment in semiconductor maker Advanced Micro Devices.

Its other tech investments include GlobalFoundries, a semiconductor manufacturer, UAE-based satellite company Yahsat, and a stake in Dubai telecom operator du.