A mobile device displaying the Didi Chuxing app is posed near the Apple store logo in Beijing, China. Pic: AP

Chinese ride-hailing app Didi Chuxing scores $7.3 billion in latest funding

THE competition to be the leading ride-hailing app in China has intensified following Didi Chuxing’s recent successful bid to secure $7.3 billion from investors, including Apple Inc.

The main local competitor to Uber Technologies Ltd., said Thursday that investors in its latest financing round also included China Life Insurance Co.

China’s ride-hailing industry has grown rapidly, with competitors spending heavily to subsidize rides to capture market share.

Didi Chuxing, previously Didi Kuaidi, operates in some 400 Chinese cities.

In September, the company and Lyft of the United States agreed to link their services to allow travelers to use the apps in each other’s markets. In December, their alliance added India’s Ola and Southeast Asia’s Grab.

With the new integration, Grab can be used in 200 U.S. cities, while Lyft users will enjoy convenient access to ride-hailing services in 30 cities across six countries in Southeast Asia. The partnership has a potential reach of nearly 50 percent of the world’s population: billions of travelers across China, Southeast Asia, the U.S. and India.

SEE ALSO: Ride-hailing app grabs edge over rivals with better grasp of local markets

According to Bloomberg, Didi’s latest financing values the ride-hailing app at close to $28 billion.

The Beijing-based company said it hooked a debt package of as much as $2.5 billion from China Merchants Bank Co. on top of the equity fundraising.

The company said China Life Insurance Co. made a long-term debt investment of 2 billion yuan ($304 million). This brings Didi’s disposable funds to $10.5 billion.

Bloomberg also reported that both Didi and Uber are amassing cash and spending aggressively to expand in the world’s second-largest economy, partly by subsidizing the costs of rides.

Didi said it would use the recently acquired funding to upgrade technology, big data research and investment in improving the experience for riders and drivers.

Didi is also backed by Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. and Tencent Holdings Ltd. — China’s two most valuable technology companies. The company has also set a target for initial public offering in New York next year.

Additional reporting by Associated Press