$5.5 billion raised by China's ride-hailing giant Didi

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China's top ride-hailing service, Didi Chuxing, said on Friday it has raised more than $5.5 billion to expand its business overseas and develop artificial intelligence technology.

Apple Inc has invested $1 billion in Chinese ride-hailing firm Didi Chuxing, earlier known as Didi Kuaidi, in a deal that gives the tech giant.

With the new funding, Didi's valuation continues its rapid ascent from just US$25 billion last June to an estimated value of US$50 billion, which would make it the second most valuable start-up in the world, behind uber.

China's largest ride-sharing company didn't reveal the identities of its backers but said the proceeds would be used to fund "its global strategy and artificial intelligence-based technologies".

Didi's new valuation includes its acquisition of Uber's China operations, which it bought a year ago following a fierce battle between the rivals that was losing both companies money.

Ant Financial, an affiliate of Alibaba Group, is now China's most valuable privately owned company with a valuation of more than US$60 billion.

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Didi has tapped existing investors including Japan's SoftBank, China Merchants Bank and a unit of China's Bank of Communications, the person said.

Didi, however, did not name the investors.

China legalised ride-hailing services in July previous year and is the world's largest market, fuelled by hundreds of millions of mobile-savvy Chinese millennials.

According to sources, part of the latest capital investment would be used for global expansion.

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

Didi, founded in 2012, claims almost 90 percent of China's ride-hailing market after buying rival Uber's assets in the country a year ago. Didi wants to take advantage of data on 300 million users across some 400 cities. At the time, this valued the company at $35 billion.

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