Ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing raised more than $5.5 billion from investors, scoring the largest round of funding ever for a technology company to bankroll an expansion beyond China and into driverless technology.
Since Uber exited the Chinese market past year, Didi has sought to expand in Latin America, leading a $100 million investment in Brazilian ride-hailing service 99 in January.
The fresh funds will be used for global expansion, driverless vehicle technology and other advanced transportation technology, the person familiar with the fund raising said.
The financing follows a massive US$4.5 billion equity funding in June previous year from Apple, China Life, Ant Financial, as well as returning investors Tencent, Alibaba, China Merchants Bank and SoftBank.
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China's top ride-hailing app is raising up to $6 bln. Didi Chuxing, Silver Lake and Softbank declined to comment, while China Merchants Bank and Bank of Communications did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Didi, however, did not name the investors.
According to sources, part of the latest capital investment would be used for worldwide expansion. The deal gave Uber China investors, including Uber and search engine operator Baidu, a 20 percent stake in the new firm. While the four-year-old start-up has so far focused on ride-hailing services in the domestic market, it's looking to expand into more countries and invest in technologies from autonomous driving to artificial intelligence.
That price tag would surpass smartphone maker Xiaomi Corp.'s and make Didi the world's most valuable startup after Uber. And it's already lured dozens of stalwarts in the field including former Uber auto-security expert Charlie Miller, known for remotely hacking into a Jeep Cherokee in 2015. "As a global technology leader, Didi is striving to advance the transformation of transportation and automotive industries through active internationalization plans; and bring value to urban transportation markets around the world through cutting-edge big-data capabilities, products and expertise", the company said in a statement.