Ride-sharing company Didi Chuxing has raised more than $5.5 billion from investors in China, marking the largest amount of funding earned by a technology company ever in the country. Last month it officially opened a lab researching artificial intelligence-related driving technologies in Silicon Valley in the US.
The valuation represents a jump from Didi's $34 billion price tag in August, when it agreed to acquire Uber Technology Inc's China business, and also puts it closer to the USA firm's $68 billion.
Didi, which drove Uber Technologies Inc. out of China a year ago, is already one of the country's best-funded private companies: its backers range from powerful state agencies to global venture firms and WeChat-operator Tencent Holdings Ltd.
Though Didi is the market leader in China, the company is pretty much unknown to consumers elsewhere. The deal gave Uber a one-fifth stake in Didi.
Didi invested in Brazilian ride-hailing service 99 in January, and has teamed up with a number of online mobility companies in southeast Asia as well as auto rental company Avis after regulatory draft rules introduced at the end of previous year reduced the number of drivers and vehicles available for riders. Also, this would make Didi the tech industry's second highest valued startup behind only Uber. On Friday, a source familiar with the matter told CNBC that the latest funding round values Didi at $50 billion. Didi Chuxing, Silver Lake and Softbank declined to comment, while China Merchants Bank and Bank of Communications did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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China's top ride-hailing app is raising up to $6 bln.
Didi lists among its investors Apple and Chinese internet titans Alibaba and Tencent.
Ride hailing services are also increasingly edging towards self-driving, which makes it the right time for a company such as Didi to invest in advanced technology.
"With this new investment, Didi will continue to work with communities and partners around the world to provide more innovative mobility services, and to expand smart urban transportation programs as part of its efforts to build an efficient and sustainable global mobility ecosystem", it said.