Chinese Taxi App Yidao Yongche Hints At Deal With Uber

Uber appears to be on the cusp of a deal with a rival ride-sharing app in China that could boost its presence in the country.

Yidao Yongche, one of the companies that pioneered an Uber Black-like limousine service in China, used microblogging platform Sina Weibo to hint at a coming together with Uber. Representatives from Uber declined to comment further, but any deal would represent another consolidation in China’s taxi-hailing space following the surprise multi-billion dollar merger between arch rivals Kuaidi Dache and Didi Dache announced back in February. (Those two companies are estimated to account for over 90 percent of China’s taxi-app market.)

Yidao Yongche was founded three years ago and it emerged as ‘the original Uber’ in China, before Kuaidi Dache and Didi Dache propelled themselves into dominant positions thanks to hundreds of millions of dollars of funding from investors including SoftBank, Alibaba and Tencent.

Uber and Yidao Yongche have been linked with a partnership in the past, back in May they were reported to be exploring a potential tie-in, and this time it appears to be a genuine possibility. Yidao Yongche hinted that the news will be announced at a press conference on Thursday.

If a deal does come to fruition, it will not be Uber’s first tactical partnership in China. The U.S. firm took undisclosed investment from Baidu as part of a deal that helped it tap into the internet giant’s resources, including its superior mapping service in China. This time around, Yidao Yongche will add more legitimacy to Uber’s operations in China — which has been rocked by police raids in Guangzhou and Chongqing.

Any acquisition would be Uber’s first purchase of a ride-hailing company outright. It previously acquired U.S.-based map startup DeCarta in March.