China's ride-hailing giant DiDi acquires Brazilian counterpart

Reuters

Reuters

BEIJING-China's dominant ride-hailing company has kicked off the new year with a challenge to Uber Technologies Inc.in Latin America by taking over a top Brazilian startup. In exchange, Didi invested $1 billion in Uber.

Brazilian newspaper Valor Econômico earlier reported the valuation of the deal and the investors involved. Like Didi, the company originated as an app for hailing existing municipal taxis, before venturing out into private ride-hailing. The price wasn't disclosed, but a person familiar with the matter put it at about $600 million for a majority stake. An all-out acquisition would be an interesting, and pretty aggressive, turn for Didi, which has to date mostly focused on investing in comparable regional startups rather than buying them outright.

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Though Didi Chuxing's core ride-hailing service is limited to China, the company has been expanding through a targeted investment strategy that could help stymie Uber's traction in key markets. Other ridesharing companies that Didi has invested in include Grab in Southeast Asia, and Careem in the Middle East. Didi, which claims to be the world's leading mobile transportation platform with more than 450 million users, had become a strategic investor in 99 Taxis last January.

Didi has made no secret of its desire to expand beyond China, particularly in light of the growing number of Chinese customers who travel overseas. It was first reported by TechCrunch. Similar to Uber, Didi Chuxing offers smartphone-based auto services, such as carpooling, taxis, and premium cars with drivers. In August 2016, then-Uber CEO Travis Kalanick announced his plan to sell his Chinese business to Uber for a 17.7 percent stake in Didi and a seat on the company's board. The company has had such a stronghold in Mexico that few competitors - including 99 - were willing to attempt an expansion into what was the company's third-biggest country market in 2015.

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