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Didi steers into New York for mega initial public offering

Written by Brady Ng Published on     2 mins read

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Didi logged a USD 1.6 billion net loss in 2020, then eked out a profitable Q1 this year.

Chinese ride-hailing firm Didi has filed for an initial public offering in New York. The company aims to raise USD 100 million but may change its target as new terms for the share sale come to light. Previous reports suggested Didi may seek a valuation of USD 70–100 billion. The higher end of that band would make Didi’s IPO the biggest Chinese share offering in the United States

The application was sent to the US Securities and Exchange Commission under the name Xiaoju Kuaizhi Inc. Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, and JPMorgan Chase & Co. are leading the offering.

Didi counts SoftBank, Uber, and Tencent as its largest shareholders. The three firms have a combined 41% stake in the company, Didi’s filing shows.

Didi was founded in 2012 by Cheng Wei, an Alibaba alum who worked his way up from sales manager to deputy general manager. Cheng holds a 7% stake in his company, which now sets the standard for ride-hailing in China.

In 2020, through a pandemic-ridden year, Didi logged USD 21.6 billion in revenue, with a net loss of USD 1.6 billion. Its Q1 2021 revenue ran at USD 6.4 billion, turning a profit with a net income of USD 837 million.

Didi is entangled with enterprises around the world that offer rides as their core business. It ousted Uber from China in 2016 and absorbed the American firm’s operations in China. The following year, Didi and SoftBank were lead investors in a USD 2 billion investment in Grab, which operates in Southeast Asia and plans to go public in New York through a SPAC merger in Q4 2021.

The ride provider acknowledged passenger safety as a risk to its future operations, citing the murders of two women by drivers offering rides on Hitch, Didi’s carpooling service, in the summer of 2018. Hitch was suspended for more than a year while Didi recovered from the incidents and formulated protection measures for passengers and drivers.

Beyond its core rides business, Didi is also developing capabilities in autonomous driving and has kicked off a project to develop its own electric cars. In April, the company released footage from a five-hour road test of its autonomous driving technology in Shanghai traffic, going from daylight to after dark.

Didi expects to go public with an eponymous ticker symbol, “DIDI.” 

Read this: Researchers took over 800 trips using Chinese ride-hailing apps—here’s what they found

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