Uber is raising US$1.2 billion for its China business, CEO and founder Travis Kalanick said today. In an interview with China’s Sina Tech, Kalanick stated that the funding round is still not finalized, so the sum total might be higher. If so, it’ll be Uber’s biggest ever venture capital round of investment.
It’s the first confirmation of Uber’s China investment after a leaked letter in June, purportedly penned by Kalanick, said that Uber planned to throw US$1 billion at its China business in 2015 in order to fend off homegrown rivals.
Uber’s co-founder and CEO didn’t reveal who the investors are or when the deal will be finalized.
Friends with strategic benefits
Kalanick said the China funding round was about finding strategic investors in the country. At the end of last year, Uber got its first Chinese partner when Baidu, the country’s top search engine, invested an undisclosed sum.
Uber is battling China’s two dominant city taxi apps, Didi Dache and Kuaidi Dache, as the homegrown rivals expand into Uber-style private car rides. Didi Dache and Kuaidi Dache – backed by Tencent and Alibaba, respectively – merged into one company in February.
But Uber and the local rivals are meeting resistance as local governments try to stop ordinary people using apps to make money from their cars. Last week, Shenzhen outlawed the practice, which followed on from Beijing’s move three months earlier. However, the private car-hailing services remain in action in both cities as the ban is not being implemented fully.