Didi may not have invested in Asian ally Grab’s recent funding round after all

Days after Didi Chuxing agreed to buy Uber’s China business, news broke that Didi — China’s top ride-sharing service — had agreed to take part in a new funding round for Southeast Asia-based ally Grab.

The Chinese firm’s involvement in the round — which closed at $700 million at a $3 billion valuation led by SoftBank — was never formally announced, along with a lot of other investors, but it was widely assumed by many following the earlier reports.

Didi’s involvement was seen as an important development because its acquisition of its arch rival threw its alliance with Grab, Ola in India and U.S.-based Lyft — the so-called “anti-Uber alliance” — into jeopardy. Didi was a participant in Grab’s previous round in 2015, and it also has investments in Ola and Lyft to foster solidarity and develop business alliances, which include a feature to let users to roam between the different services.

Didi’s involvement in the latest Grab round was perfectly timed from a PR perspective, but it turns out that it may not have happened after all.

That’s according to a story about Grab from Bloomberg today which includes a cursory mention of the round, and an apparent lack of capital from Didi:

It’s unclear how the alliance between Grab, Didi, Lyft Inc. and India’s Ola will proceed. Jean Liu, Didi’s president, told a summit in San Francisco the company is a “big believer” in leveraging the knowledge and strengths of local players. Her company is said to have been in talks to join Grab’s last round of funding, though that investment never got nailed down even as other backers were announced. No one’s suggesting the quartet is breaking up and Tan said the four founders remain close and still share information, but had no immediate plans to hook up their networks.

Both Didi and Grab declined to comment when we asked for clarification.

That leaves you having to make your own mind up. But since you’d imagine that both sides would have been keen to highlight Didi’s participation in the round when it closed, the silence seems to be fairly telling.

Next exercise in thought: what does it mean if Didi, a close ally of Grab, was apparently too late to invest in Grab’s round, which closed two weeks after we (and others) first reported about it?