Newly merged Chinese taxi-hailing app now valued at $9 BEEELLION

Hedge funds pile in to a (so far) almost Uber-free market

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A coalition of US hedge funds, sovereign wealth funds, and the largest of China's technology companies have invested in a merger of the country's largest taxi-hailing apps, bringing the combined company's valuation up to almost $9bn.

Didi Dache and Kuaidi Dache, China's leading taxi-hailing apps, announced their intention to merge in February.

Although a name has still not been announced for the combined company, a consortium of investors have purchased almost $600m worth of shares in it, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The deal sees the business' valuation rise from a measly $6bn to $8.75bn. Nearly all taxi rides booked through an app in China are booked through either Didi Dache or Kuaidi Dache.

Expectations of enormous increases in China's e-commerce sector have spurred this level of investment in Chinese technology startups.

Reuters reported that the companies had been "vying for the world's largest transport market [with] more than 150 million Chinese hailing taxis using their smartphones, according to analysts. They've received more than $1bn from private investors in recent months to sustain their battle for market share."

Their combined valuation still falls short of Uber's, however, which is currently estimated to be just over $40bn.

Uber operates in a number of Chinese cities (although its market share is tiny), and is currently on a recruitment drive, according to its website. However, it recently suspended its service in South Korea, while it tries to reach a detente with local cabbies.

WSJ reported that the consortium had been led by Coatue Management and cited "people familiar with the situation". Coatue, which has previously invested in Uber competitor Lyft, purchased "about $250m of common shares of the combined company". ®

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