Apple-Backed Didi Chuxing in Talks to Launch IPO: Report

China’s Didi Chuxing Technology Co. is reportedly in talks to launch a multi-billion-dollar initial public offering (IPO) this year.

People familiar with the matter told The Wall Street Journal that the Beijing-based company, whose investors include the likes of Apple Inc. (AAPL), Japan-based venture capital firm Softbank Group Corp. (SFTBY), Chinese tech giant Tencent Holdings Limited (TCEHY) and Taiwanese electronics contract manufacturing outfit Foxconn Technology Group (HNHPF), has discussed with bankers the possibility of going public as early as the second half of 2018.

If Didi presses ahead with these plans, its management team hopes to fetch a valuation of at least $70 billion to $80 billion. Those funds would be used to help the company cope with growing international competition and finance its expansion in Latin America and parts of Asia. (See also: Didi Chuxing.)

News that Didi may go public came after one of its biggest new rivals, China’s Meituan-Dianping, outlined its intention to IPO later this year. Uber, another competitor in some overseas markets and a holder of a 20% stake in Didi, is also considering a public listing, although the U.S.-based company’s CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said this is unlikely to happen before 2019. Didi acquired Uber’s China unit in 2016. (See also: Uber Will IPO in 2019.)

The Journal’s sources said Didi has yet to decide on a listing venue and may not go ahead with the IPO this year, as discussions are still in the very early stages. The sources added that the Chinese company, which was valued at $56 billion in a private fundraising round in late 2017, is also considering other means to raise capital.

One option includes selling convertible bonds, which would pay investors interest and then later be converted into shares, should Didi complete its public listing. According to Crunchbase, the firm has raised capital of $20 billion in 14 funding rounds.

Didi is one of many Chinese tech giants considering going public, noted the Journal. Aside from its rival Meituan-Dianping, Tencent Music Group Entertainment, the music-streaming business of internet giant Tencent Holdings, smartphone maker Xiaomi Corp. and Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. (BABA) are all reportedly keen to tap the public markets for cash. (See also: Tencent Music Entertainment Group Eyes IPO.)

Alibaba, which is already listed on the New York Stock Exchange, is now reportedly keen to list on a stock exchange in its home market. Meanwhile, Tencent is planning an IPO in the U.S. as early as the second half of this year, and Xiaomi hopes to list in mainland China and Hong Kong as soon as this summer, according to the Journal.

Representatives for Didi were not available to comment.

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