Wed, Jan 13, 2016 - Page 14 News List

New funds boost Uber valuation


Uber said its Chinese division has raised financing that values that part of the ride-hailing company’s operation at US$7 billion.

Uber chief executive Travis Kalanick discussed the new funds at a press conference in Beijing on Monday.

Backers of Uber China include HNA Group (中國海航集團), operator of China’s fourth-largest airline; China Taiping Insurance Holdings (中國太平保險); Guangzhou Automobile Group (廣州汽車); China Life Insurance (中國人壽), the nation’s largest insurer; and Citic Securities, a Chinese investment bank.

Uber has been looking for a person to run its Chinese operation for months, but has yet to name someone.

Liu Zhen (劉震), who reports to Kalanick, is to continue to run the business in the meantime.

Uber is bumping up against local competitors around the world. Nowhere is the competition more fierce than in China, where Uber faces Didi Kuaidi (滴滴快的).

Didi Kuaidi is backed by Alibaba (阿里巴巴) and Tencent (騰訊), the nation’s two most valuable technology companies.

Uber and Didi Kuaidi are each spending aggressively to expand, partly by subsidizing the costs of rides. In a letter to investors last year, Kalanick committed to spending US$1 billion that year in China. Uber could have surpassed that figure.

Didi Kuaidi on Monday said that it completed 1.43 billion trips last year. Uber said it increased its share of the private car market in China to 30 percent or 35 percent as of the end of last year, from 1 percent in January last year.

Didi Kuaidi said it holds 87.2 percent of China’s private car-hailing market, attributing the figure to a Chinese research firm.

A round of financing gave Didi Kuaidi a valuation of US$16.5 billion, a person familiar with the matter said in September last year.

Uber, which owns a controlling stake in Uber China, was last valued at US$62.5 billion, people familiar with the matter said last month.

Uber China’s US$7 billion valuation does not include the new cash.

An Uber spokeswoman declined to comment on how much was invested in that round, what portion of the investment had closed and how much the US company had committed to invest in its Chinese offshoot.

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