[HONG KONG] China's Didi Chuxing and SoftBank Group Corp are leading a new round of funding in top South-east Asian ride-sharing service Grab that could top US$600 million, according to people familiar with the deal.
The round could close as early as this week and takes the total amount of funds available to Grab to more than US$1 billion, the people said on condition of anonymity because the deal is private.
Grab declined to comment while SoftBank wasn't immediately available for comment. Didi didn't respond to e-mailed and messaged requests for comment.
A deal comes days after Didi bought out Uber Technologies Inc's operations in China, ending a battle that has cost billions of dollars and allowing the US company to focus its ambitions elsewhere.
Grab CEO Anthony Tan said at the time he expected Uber to concentrate on the relatively untapped South-east Asian market. The US company now plans to redeploy 150 engineers from its Chinese operations to other key markets, including Grab's backyard, according to people with direct knowledge of the plan.
Grab, which operates in 30 cities across six countries, was last valued at US$1.5 billion, according to CB Insights.
On-demand car services have taken off around the world as smartphone usage expands and riders seek simpler or quicker alternatives to taxis and public transportation.
But the process of signing up drivers and attracting customers is a costly one, requiring big subsidies on rides.
Didi forged an alliance last year with Grab, India's Ola and the US's Lyft Inc in an effort to thwart Uber, and it's unclear what impact the Chinese deal will have on that tie-up.