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China's Weibo to invest US$142m in taxi-hailing apps: SEC filing

[HONG KONG] Chinese microblog Weibo Corp will invest US$142 million in China's dominant taxi-hailing firms Didi Taxi and Kuaidi Taxi, a US Securities and Exchange Commission filing showed.

Weibo said in the filing on Tuesday that it had agreed to invest in the two Chinese companies in the latest round of financing through its Cayman Islands holding company Xiaoju Kuaizhi Inc, a move that will help lure in riders and fend off rivals like US firm Uber Technologies Inc. Didi Taxi and Kuaidi Taxi, the two leading taxi apps in China, merged in February to create Didi Kuaidi - the world's largest smartphone-based transport service which was valued at roughly US$6 billion according to a person familiar with the deal.

A spokesman for Weibo said the investment went into the merged company. Didi Kuaidi declined to comment.

Weibo, controlled by Web portal company Sina Corp, has become China's water cooler, where nearly 600 million Internet users discuss everything from Korean soap operas to China's politics. Like many other Internet firms, the company - with around 200 million monthly active users - has to operate in a heavily censored and tightly controlled media environment in China.

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Didi Kuaidi operates in 360 cities in China and has 1.35 million drivers. Its premium car service is available in 61 cities with 400,000 drivers. Daily calls for taxis have hit 4 million per day, while premium cars are ordered 1.5 million times a day.