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Colombia unicorn startup Rappi worth US$3.5b after SoftBank bet

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SoftBank Group's US$1 billion bet on Rappi has made the delivery app one of the most valuable tech startups in Latin America, according to people with knowledge of the deal.

[BOGOTA] SoftBank Group's US$1 billion bet on Rappi has made the delivery app one of the most valuable tech startups in Latin America, according to people with knowledge of the deal.

The Colombia-based company is worth around US$3.5 billion after the Japanese company's Innovation Fund and Vision Fund agreed last month to each invest US$500 million, said the people familiar, who asked not to be identified speaking about a private deal. A spokeswoman for Rappi didn't immediately reply to a request for comment.

Rappi, which operates in seven countries, where it employs armies of bike-riding couriers delivering groceries, hot meals and products from tens of thousands of businesses, last year reached unicorn status - the term for a tech startup worth US$1 billion or more. At US$3.5 billion, it would join be among the most valuable private firms in Latin America, along with Brazil's Nubank, which specializes in financial services. A handful of others have gone public.

The SoftBank deal, part of the Innovation Fund's US$5 billion of spending in the region, comes as venture capital investments in Latin American startups quadrupled since 2016 to US$2 billion last year, according to the Association for Private Capital Investments in Latin America.

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As part of SoftBank's investment -- its biggest ever in Latin America - Jeffrey Housenbold, managing partner of SoftBank Investment Advisers, will join the board of directors, the companies said in an April 30 joint statement.

Rappi "has the potential to expand far beyond its current business and become of the most important technology companies in Latin America", Mr Housenbold said in the statement.

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