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China ride-hailing giant Didi aims for $60 billion NYSE valuation
A Didi autonomous taxi takes a pilot test drive on the streets in Shanghai. Photo: AFP.

IPO will be one of the biggest share sales by any Chinese company in the US since Alibaba raised $25 billion in 2014

(AF) Didi Global, China’s largest ride-hailing company, is aiming for a valuation of more than $60 billion in its New York Stock Exchange debut, which would make it the biggest US initial public offering (IPO) this year.

It set a price range of between $13 and $14 per American Depositary Share (ADS) and said it would offer 288 million such shares in its IPO. At the upper end of the price range, Didi expects to raise a little more than $4 billion.

Four ADSs represent one class A ordinary share, it said in a regulatory filing on Thursday that was registered under its formal name Xiaoju Kuaizhi.

The IPO will be the one of the biggest share sales by any Chinese company in the US since Alibaba raised $25 billion in 2014.

However, the terms of the offering suggest a conservative approach from Didi, which had at one point been in talks to raise as much as $10 billion at a valuation of nearly $100 billion.

The New York listing plan comes amid a sweeping regulatory crackdown on China’s biggest tech “platform” companies, including Alibaba and Tencent. Earlier this month, Reuters reported that China’s market regulator has begun an antitrust probe into Didi.

Republican lawmakers in the US called on the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to ban the offering.

“America cannot continue to allow unaccountable companies based in China to ignore our nation’s laws,” Florida Senator Marco Rubio said. “Every time the SEC allows companies like Didi to list on American exchanges, it funnels desperately needed US dollars into Beijing.

Backed by SoftBank, Tencent

The company is backed by Asia’s largest technology investment firms including SoftBank Group, Alibaba Group Holdings and Tencent Holdings.

Morgan Stanley and Singapore’s Temasek have indicated interest in purchasing up to $1.25 billion, or about one-third of the total offering at the middle of the price range.

Morgan Stanley is also serving as a lead underwriter on the IPO, and Temasek is a longtime investor in Didi. Goldman Sachs (Asia) and JP Morgan are the other lead underwriters.

Before settling for a New York float, Didi had considered Hong Kong as a potential listing venue for a multi-billion dollar IPO in 2021.

Didi, the world’s largest mobility-technology platform, operates in 15 countries and has more than 493 million annual active users globally.

It counts as its core business a mobile app used to hail taxis, privately owned cars, car-pool options and even buses in some cities.

In addition to ride-sharing, Didi operates electric vehicle charging networks, fleet management, car making and autonomous driving.

With reporting by Reuters

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George Russell

George Russell is a freelance writer and editor based in Hong Kong who has lived in Asia since 1996. His work has been published in the Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, New York Post, Variety, Forbes and the South China Morning Post.

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