Didi steps on the listing accelerator to overtake Uber

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Signs advertising the Didi company. Photo: didichuxing.com

While ride-sharing companies have been accelerating into the fast lane in China in a bid to overtake their rivals, Didi Chuxing Technology appears to have edged to the front.

According to the Wall Street Journal, China’s No. 1 ride-sharing platform is racing to become the largest technology IPOs this year with a target valuation of at least US$70 billion.

However, no listing venue has been identified, possibly because Didi, which recently expanded to South America, would have picked the Nasdaq as its natural choice had it not been for the tense Sino-American relationship in light of US sanctions on China’s No. 2 telecom equipment maker ZTE.

Should Didi’s listing plan go to schedule in the second half of this year, it would trump Uber. Uber was valued at $48 billion last year when Softbank took a 15% stake in the world’s first ride-hailing firm.

Although it seems like Didi and Uber are competing, they are, just like their countries of origin, complementing each other too.

Uber was the single largest shareholder of Didi after merging its loss-making business in China with Didi. Uber owns about 20% of Didi, which also invested $1 billion in Uber, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Founded in 2012, Didi has an average of 30 million rides per day from its 450 million users, which puts it ahead of rivals like Lyft and Grab, and is one of the world’s largest private companies.

The success of Didi inspired many rivals, one of which was China’s Meituan-Dianping, a Tencent Holdings-backed company which launched a ride-hailing service in Shanghai last month. It is also rushing to list with a target market valuation of $60 billion.

Manbang Group, dubbed an Uber-style truck-hailing company, on Tuesday closed a $1.9 billion fund led by China Reform Fund and Japan’s Softbank Group, according to Caixin.

Among the consortium were Google parent Alphabet Inc’s venture capital fund CapitalG, Hong Kong-based investment firm Ward Ferry, Farallon Capital Management, Baillie Gifford and a number of original shareholders such as Tencent.

The race to the finish line for these ride-hailing unicorns has just begun.

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