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[BEIJING] Didi Kuaidi, the Chinese car-booking business competing with Uber Technologies Inc, is close to raising about US$3 billion as it completes its latest round of financing, according to people familiar with the matter.
The latest fundraising values the company at US$16.5 billion, one of the people said, declining to be identified because the plans are private. Didi Kuaidi declined to comment on the status of the financing Monday.
Didi Kuaidi President Jean Liu said in July the company was looking to raise more money after pooling US$2 billion from investors. Uber was said last month to be close to completing a round of about US$1.4 billion in fundraising for its business in China.
Both companies have been locked in a race for market share and are dishing out incentives to attract drivers and riders. Demand for car-booking has risen as consumers frustrated with hailing taxis on the street turn to smartphone apps to reserve rides.
The new funding by Didi Kuaidi and Uber will help them pay for expansion in the estimated US$1 trillion-a-year market for transportation services in the world's most populous country.
Uber told investors that it plans to spend US$1 billion in China this year, while Didi Kuaidi announced it would give away 1 billion yuan (US$161 million) worth of rides to commuters to compete against other players.
Didi Kuaidi's investors include SoftBank Corp and Ping An Insurance(Group) Co. The company has also attracted investors including Beijing Automotive Group Co and China Investment Corp, people familiar with the matter have said. Alibaba Group Holding Ltd and Tencent Holdings Ltd have also invested in this round of fundraising that kicked off in June.
Alibaba declined to comment on Didi Kuaidi's valuation and fundraising in an e-mail.