China’s Didi buys Brazil’s 99 outright, challenging chief rival Uber
Beijing — On Thursday, Chinese ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing said it had bought Brazil’s 99 Taxis, opening another front in the Beijing-based company’s global battle with Uber.
Didi, which claims to be the world’s leading cellphone transportation platform with more than 450-million users, had become a strategic investor in 99 Taxis in January 2017.
It now will acquire the company outright along with its 14-million registered users in Brazil as it pushes into the growing Latin American car-share market.
"Globalisation is a top strategic priority for Didi," founder and CEO Cheng Wei said in a statement announcing the purchase, adding that the company would continue to seek "diversified international operations and partnerships".
Didi said it had now entered into partnerships with seven "major international players", serving more than 1,000 cities worldwide, including Southeast Asia’s Grab, India’s Ola, US-based Lyft and Europe’s Taxify. Didi and Uber have been waging a global turf war since Didi bought the US-based company’s China operations in 2017.
The statement from Didi called the 99 Taxis acquisition a "significant step next step of Didi’s global strategy".
Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro are Uber’s two busiest cities in the world as ranked by the number of trips that take place there, Bloomberg News reported.
In 2017, Didi became Asia’s most valuable start-up company. Two weeks ago it announced an additional $4bn was raised in a new funding round. Investors included Japanese telecoms giant Softbank and Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala Capital, sources close to the matter said at the time.
The sources said the latest round raised Didi’s valuation to $56bn. The investment will be used to fuel Didi’s global expansion and support new developments in artificial intelligence and new-energy vehicles, the company said.
Didi says it handles up to 25-million rides per day.