Didi Kuaidi, the Chinese car-booking business, is looking to raise more money in a funding round that has already pooled $2 billion from investors including Ping An Ventures and Capital International Private Equity Fund.
The company is open to inviting more strategic investors it sees as valuable, Didi’s President Jean Liu said in an interview Wednesday. A “few hundred million dollars” more will be sought from new investors before the final closing in the coming month, the company said in an e-mailed statement.
Xiaoju Kuaizhi Inc., the company that owns the Didi and Kuaidi applications, will focus on China, expanding in shuttle bus, chauffeur and carpooling services, Liu said. Its main competitor Uber Technologies Inc. plans to invest more than $1 billion in the country this year, according to a letter that the San Francisco-based app sent to investors.
“There are a lot of very valuable investors who still want to come in, and we like their brands and value-add,” Liu said by phone. “We will be very focused in the China market, we will spend heavily on R&D, on big data, and also on how to enlarge our market.”
The Beijing-based company’s cash reserves will grow to more than $3.5 billion, it said in the same statement. Other investors in this round include Coatue Management and previous investors Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., Tencent Holdings Ltd. and Temasek Holdings Pte.
The company is valued at about $15 billion by investors, people familiar with the matter have said.
It began offering a ride sharing service known as Didi Hitch in June. The business covers 137 cities in China, and has attracted more than 2.6 million registered car owners and 2 million passengers, the company said in an e-mail in July.
Private car requests have tripled to 3 million daily rides on Didi Kuaidi platforms since May and gross merchandise volume is expected to reach $12 billion by the end of this year, according to a June 26 letter to investors.
The Didi and Kuaidi apps, which form China’s largest taxi and ride-sharing platform, merged this year to limit the rising costs of competing with each other and Uber. The Chinese company works directly with existing taxi drivers, sidestepping some of the protests Uber has faced in the country.
Didi Kuaidi still runs separate apps that customers use to access their service, while combining their technology and data. The company has 1.5 million taxi drivers in its network out of the 2 million in all of China, according to the letter to investors.
Baidu Inc., China’s largest search engine operator, in December agreed to buy a stake in Uber.
— With assistance by Lulu Chen, and Alexandra Ho