Didi Chuxing, China’s Ride-Hailing Giant, Holds Talks With SoftBank
HONG KONG — Didi Chuxing, a company in China that last year bested Uber in that huge ride-sharing market, is in negotiations to get SoftBank of Japan to take part in a multibillion-dollar investment round, according to people familiar with the talks.
Should a deal be reached, it could be the latest big bet that SoftBank’s eccentric leader, Masayoshi Son, has placed on a significant technology company. Mr. Son has been raising $100 billion for what he calls the SoftBank Vision Fund and has already pledged to invest $50 billion and create 50,000 jobs in the United States. While it is unclear whether that fund is involved in the talks over Didi Chuxing, analysts say it could be further used to make sizable investments in big, global tech companies.
如果达成协议，这可能是软银古怪的掌舵人孙正义(Masayoshi Son)最新一次押宝重要的科技企业。孙正义一直在努力为他的软银愿景基金(SoftBank Vision Fund)筹集1000亿美元（约合7000亿元人民币）资金，并已承诺在美国投资500亿美元，创造5万个就业岗位。尽管尚不清楚围绕滴滴出行的谈判是否涉及该基金，但分析人士称，它可能会被进一步用来大规模投资大型跨国科技企业。
A deal could also help Didi Chuxing, which counts Apple among its powerful backers, contend with a rash of difficulties. Since the company bought Uber’s business in China in the summer to form a business valued at $35 billion, it has been mired in regulatory pressures.
Still, executives at the company have said that they harbor international ambitions, and it is pushing aggressively to catch up in the development of driverless car technologies. A deal with SoftBank is also intended to increase Didi Chuxing’s value, said one of the people familiar with the talks.
It is unclear whether Didi Chuxing will reach a deal with SoftBank and at what amount or whether it will involve other investors. The people familiar with the talks spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the discussions. Bloomberg ment">earlier reported the talks on Tuesday.
The fund-raising efforts by Didi Chuxing show how foreign investors currently value dominance in China, an internet market largely closed to foreign competition that has the largest smartphone-using populace in the world. A new multibillion-dollar round would also put Didi roughly on par with the total funds raised by Uber. It has also raised money at home from the two biggest internet companies in China: Alibaba, an e-commerce giant, and Tencent, a games and social media conglomerate.
Didi Chuxing’s longer-term expansion is likely to be closely watched as a touchstone of the prospects of China’s homegrown internet champions. The company has a number of high-profile investors, both Chinese and foreign, and whether it develops important technology for autonomous cars or is able to expand into other markets will become a new barometer for the abilities of companies that have grown large in China’s relatively isolated market.
Along with receiving a bigger valuation, analysts said Didi would most likely use the money to invest in next-generation technology, like autonomous vehicles, and potentially also on international expansion, though the company has so far done little outside its domestic market.
Didi has been content to invest in and work with a band of similar ride-hailing companies in India, Southeast Asia and America. The partners include Uber’s main rival in the United States, Lyft. It is uncertain whether Didi would consider introducing its own service to challenge those partners as part of an international push, look to other markets in developing countries or continue to invest in promising companies.
Even so, the company has put money into recruiting foreign talent. In March, Didi said it was creating a research and development lab in Silicon Valley that is focused on developing artificial-intelligence technologies to help with security and driverless cars. It also said that it would use A.I. to aid it in the data analytics required to improve transportation in China’s many traffic-snarled cities. As a part of the effort, the company poached Charlie Miller, a well-known computer scientist who once worked for Uber.
Yet even as it speeds ahead with technology, Didi has faced a more prosaic challenge at home. New rules in China that have required drivers in some of the country’s biggest cities to have registration documents have pinched the company’s ability to respond to customer demand.
Regulations have “had a direct impact on the supply of cars,” said Xue Yu, a senior analyst at IDC, a market research firm.
“For customers, it will be a lot more difficult to order a car than before the new regulations were announced,” Mr. Xue said. “This has largely raised the operation costs for Didi.”