China's Didi Chuxing buys Brazil's 99 in new challenge to Uber

Mae Love
January 13, 2018

Chinese ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing Technology Co. has spent no time in investing some of the $4 billion it raised in December, buying Brazilian auto booking service 99 Corp. today for a figure believed to be $600 million. According to several local reports, Didi is buying the Brazilian ridesharing startup, in a deal that values 99 at $1 billion.

The other takeaway from the deal is that Didi Chuxing is willing to acquire companies it has previously invested in, meaning there's a swath of companies on Didi's radar. Didi did not respond to a request for comment but a source close to the company confirmed the companies were talking and "exploring options". To date, Didi is a large investor in Southeast Asia's GrabTaxi Holdings Pte.

Didi, the world's biggest ride-hailing company, has a history of battling Uber, forcing it to pull out of China. Over the course of the year, 99 and Didi teams collaborated closely in areas ranging from technology, to product innovation, market development and operational management in Brazil.

Didi has made no secret of its desire to expand beyond China, particularly in light of the growing number of Chinese customers who travel overseas.

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The 99 application was launched in 2012 as a taxi application, and at the time was called 99Taxis. It was first reported by TechCrunch.

The relationship between Didi and 99 has been long in the offing.

Cheng Wei, founder and chief executive of Didi, said in Wednesday´s statement that "globalization is a top strategic priority for Didi". In August 2016, then-Uber CEO Travis Kalanick announced his plan to sell his Chinese business to Uber for a 17.7 percent stake in Didi and a seat on the company's board. Just last month, the company was reported to be prepping an entry into Mexico alongside expansions in its Asian home market, most recently expanding into Taiwan through a franchising model.

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