Uber rival and Chinese ride-hailing giant Didi files for IPO

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Didi Chuxing, China’s biggest ride-hailing firm, on Thursday made public its filing for a US stock market listing, setting the stage for what is expected to be the world’s biggest initial public offering this year.

The company – backed by Asia’s largest technology investment firms, SoftBank, Alibaba and Tencent – did not reveal the size of the offering, but sources familiar with the matter had previously told Reuters that the ride-hailing giant could raise around $10 billion and seek a valuation of close to $100 billion.

At that valuation, Didi’s stock market flotation would be the biggest Chinese share offering in the United States, since Alibaba raised $25 billion in its blockbuster IPO in 2014.

In its filing on Thursday, Didi revealed slower revenue growth in 2020 due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, which grounded the global ride-hailing industry to a halt as lockdowns were enforced all over the globe.

For 2020, Didi reported revenue of 141.7 billion yuan ($22.17 billion), down from 154.8 billion yuan a year earlier. Net loss stood at 10.6 billion yuan in 2020, compared with 9.7 billion yuan a year earlier.

However, Didi started 2021 strongly, as businesses reopened in China. Revenue more than doubled to 42.2 billion yuan (US$6.4 billion) for the three months ended March 31 from 20.5 billion yuan a year earlier.

A man moves a pile of shared Didi bikes
Didi reports its revenue has more than doubled in the first three months of 2021 as businesses have reopened in China.
VCG via Getty Images

CHINESE IPO GOLD RUSH

Didi confidentially filed for its IPO in April. A source familiar with the matter on Thursday said Didi was aiming to go public in July.

The mega IPO highlights the lucrative business opportunity presented by Asian tech giants for Wall Street’s big investment banks.

Earlier this year, Singapore’s biggest ride-hailing firm, Grab, struck a $40 billion deal with a special purpose acquisition company, backed by investment firm Altimeter, to go public in the United States.

Last year, Chinese companies raised $12 billion from US listings, more than triple the fundraising amount in 2019, according to Refinitiv data. This year, the raise from Chinese floats on US exchanges is expected to comfortably surpass last year’s tally.

Didi, which merged with then main rival Kuaidi in 2015 to create a smartphone-based transport services giant, counts as its core business a mobile app, where users can hail taxis, privately owned cars, car-pool options and even buses in some cities.

Didi plans to list American Depositary Shares (ADSs) on either Nasdaq or the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol “DIDI,” the company said.

Didi Chief Executive Cheng Wei said last year the firm aims to have 800 million monthly active users globally and complete 100 million orders a day by 2022, including ride-sharing, bike and food delivery orders.

Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and J.P.Morgan are the lead underwriters for the offering.

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