SoftBank confirms it’s putting $5BN into Didi Chuxing, the ‘Uber of China’

Japanese telco giant SoftBank has confirmed the size of its investment into Didi Chuxing, aka the Uber of China, and the figure is $5 billion (~¥550,000M).

The last item in SoftBank’s fiscal year 2017 earnings report, ended March 31 2017 and released today, lists the investment into Xiaoju Kuaizhi Inc. — the former name for Didi — as the sole ‘significant subsequent event’ for SoftBank’s business at close of the full year.

The company writes:

On April 17, 2017, an overseas subsidiary of SoftBank Group Corp. and Xiaoju Kuaizhi Inc. (“Kuaizhi”), the operator of a taxi allocation service in China, entered into an agreement whereby the overseas subsidiary will make a total investment of $5.0 billion (approximately ¥550,000 million) in Kuaizhi. Kuaizhi will not be classified as a subsidiary or an associate of the Company after the investment, continuously. The impact of this agreement on the operating results as of March 31, 2018 has not been determined at present.

As we reported last month, Didi confirmed the close of a $5.5BN funding round on April 28, slating the financing for continued global expansion and deeper investment in emerging areas like artificial intelligence to bring more advanced systems to its transportation service.

In January the on-demand taxi app service reported having some 400 million users across 400 cities. It acquired Uber China in August last year.

As well as SoftBank, Didi’s investor roster includes Apple, which has invested $1 billion in the company. Silver Lake Kraftwerk, China Merchants Bank Co. and Bank of Communications Co. are also investors. Didi has not officially disclosed a valuation — but we’ve previously reported sources telling us that it’s over $50BN.

It’s not clear from the wording of SoftBank’s earnings report over exactly what period the telco giant will be investing $5BN into Didi. A spokesperson declined to specify whether it invested the entire amount into Didi’s most recent (i.e. $5.5BN) funding round, or whether the amount is being spread over multiple investment rounds.

SoftBank has been on a tech investment spree of late, as we’ve noted previously. It’s also in the process of raising a $100BN VC fund, called the Vision Fund — pitched to potential backers earlier this year by charismatic CEO Masayoshi Son as a bet on the rise of superintelligent AI.

And — at least for now — SoftBank’s bet on Didi appears to be equivalent to five per cent of the planned size of that monster fund, other backers of which include Apple, Foxconn, and Saudi investors, although the Vision Fund has not yet closed.

A SoftBank spokesman confirmed to us that the fund is “not finalized yet”.