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Uber's Chinese rival Didi completes US$7.3b financing round

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Didi Chuxing completed a US$7.3 billion round of funding from new and existing investors to give China's leading ride-sharing company more firepower to battle Uber Technologies Inc.

[HONG KONG] Didi Chuxing completed a US$7.3 billion round of funding from new and existing investors to give China's leading ride-sharing company more firepower to battle Uber Technologies Inc.

Didi's raised US$4.5 billion in equity funding from Apple Inc and prominent Chinese investors, including the nation's top life insurer, the company said in an e-mailed statement without disclosing a valuation.

The latest financing values the ride-hailing app at close to US$28 billion, people familiar with the matter have said.

The Beijing-based company snagged a debt package of as much as US$2.5 billion from China Merchants Bank Co on top of the equity fundraising, the company said.

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China Life Insurance Co also made a long-term debt investment of 2 billion yuan (S$410.2 million) and Didi now has US$10.5 billion of disposable funds, it said.

Didi, which has formed a global coalition with Lyft Inc in the US, India's Ola and South-east Asia's Grab, is trying to fend off an aggressive charge by Uber onto its home turf. Both companies are amassing cash and spending aggressively to expand in the world's second-largest economy, partly by subsidising the costs of rides.

The company said the money will be used to upgrade technology, big data research and investment sin improving the experience for riders and drivers.

Backed by Alibaba Group Holding Ltd and Tencent Holdings Ltd - China's two most valuable technology companies - Didi is targeting an initial public offering in New York next year, people familiar with the matter have said. The timing depends on how the tussle with Uber plays out, the people said.

Uber is spending at least US$1 billion a year in China and has raised capital there that, as of January, valued the Chinese operations at US$7 billion. It recently raised US$3.5 billion from Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund - the single biggest investment in the company to date.

That capital infusion brought the total of Uber's latest financing round to US$5 billion. San Francisco-based Uber, valued at more than US$60 billion, is the most valuable closely held company. Xiaomi Corp is No 2, according to data from research firm CB Insights.

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