New funding makes China's Didi 'most valuable Asian start-up'

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According to a Reuters report, Chinese ride-hailing company, Didi Chuxing, will become one of the most valuable privately held company with a valuation of $50 billion, though an investment round up to $6 billion.

Beijing based-Didi, which claims almost 90 percent of China's ride-hailing market after buying rival Uber's assets in the country a year ago, said it would use the money to "support its global strategy and continued investments in AI-based technologies".

It would move Didi past Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi, which is now second at U.S. $46 billion. It opened an artificial intelligence lab in Mountain View, California last month, called Didi Labs. 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.

The financing follows a massive US$4.5 billion equity funding in June a year ago from Apple, China Life, Ant Financial, as well as returning investors Tencent, Alibaba, China Merchants Bank and SoftBank. Internationally the company has partnered with several firms for intelligent driving using AI and smart ride-hailing services. That culminated with last year's acquisition of Uber's China business, resulting in the United States ride-hailing company getting a 17.5 percent stake in Didi.

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The latest round of funding may unlock new pathways into related fields such as artificial intelligence, auto-financing and business expansion globally.

The company hopes that driverless technology could help it overcome these hurdles in the future.

Didi counts more than 100 investors as backers including Tencent Holdings, Alibaba, Tiger Global Management and China's sovereign wealth fund China Investment Corp. Didi wants to take advantage of data on 400 million users across some 400 cities to aid research into AI and autonomous vehicles.

As of fall, Didi said it was handling more than 20 million rides a day. It also employed Charlie Miler, former Uber engineer as the transport safety and security expert at the division.