Didi Chuxing, the ride-sharing giant of China and likely the most valuable startup in the world, just bought a controlling stake in 99, a leading ride-sharing app in Brazil. Now, on the heels of getting a massive $4 billion investment of its own, it appears that Didi is looking to double down the Latin American region.
Didi will be acquiring the company for around $600 million.
The companies did not disclose the stake acquired nor the value, but two people familiar with the deal told Reuters that the transaction would value 99 at over $1 billion and that Didi would hold a ´significant majority´ of the Brazilian firm. To date, Didi is a large investor in Southeast Asia's GrabTaxi Holdings Pte. All three companies, including 99, are now backed by SoftBank - and yet in places outside of China, Didi is competing with Uber.
Didi past year became Asia's most valuable start-up company.
To date, Didi has made only three acquisitions to grow, all in its home market of China. São Paulo-based 99, which was founded in 2013, has raised around $240 million in funding with notable backers including Qualcomm, SoftBank, and none other than Didi Chuxing itself, which led its $100 million series C round last January. Technology news site The Information had previously reported about talks between the two companies. Similar to Uber, Didi Chuxing offers smartphone-based vehicle services, such as carpooling, taxis, and premium cars with drivers.
The 99 application was launched in 2012 as a taxi application, and at the time was called 99Taxis.
Cheng Wei, founder and chief executive of Didi, said in Wednesday´s statement that "globalization is a top strategic priority for Didi". The company has had such a stronghold in Mexico that few competitors - including 99 - were willing to attempt an expansion into what was the company's third-biggest country market in 2015.
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