Meituan Dianping, the fast-growing Chinese firm valued at $30 billion, is buying Mobike, a Chinese startup that helped pioneer bike-sharing services worldwide, in a major piece of consolidation.
The deal was heavy rumored yesterday and TechCrunch has today confirmed with two sources that it has been concluded at a price of $2.7 billion.
TechCrunch understands that the deal will be officially announced today, but already key personnel have let the cat out of the bag on social media. Mobike President and co-founder Hu Weiwei posted a cryptic WeChat message about “a new beginning,” as our Chinese partner Technode noted, while SCMP reported that Meituan CEO Wang Xing said the company will “build a new future with Mobike.”
Representatives from Meituan Dianping and Mobike did not respond to requests for comment.
Update: The deal has been officially announced although the price is not disclosed. Meituan Dianping said Mobike will continue as an independent brand with its management team remaining in place. In addition, Meituan CEO Xing Wang will become Mobike’s chairman.
“We believe that by bringing in Mobike’s resources and expertise to our platform, we further complement our comprehensive local life service platform to help our customers not only ‘Eat Better’ but also ‘Live Better’,” Wang said in a statement.
Meituan Dianping is best known for food deliveries via electric bike, but that is just one part of its platform which connects local retailers to consumers via a so-called offline to online, or O2O, platform. The company claims to serve 320 million active customers. It was formed through a multi-billion dollar merger between China’s largest group buying services in 2015 and it has since raised boat-loads of capital from investors, including $4 billion last October, to expand into new areas.
Transportation is a major focus for Meituan Dianping. The firm began offering ride-hailing services earlier this year and it has invested in Go-Jek in Southeast Asia, so adding Mobike to its stables makes perfect sense on that front, not to mention potential synergies with its core delivery business, too.
These new forays might lead to an IPO. A host of Chinese firms have jumped into the public markets lately, and Bloomberg recently reported that Meituan Dianping hopes to join them with a listing that could value it as high as $60 billion.
The deal will also be a major win for Tencent against its long-time foe Alibaba.
Tencent is an investor in Meituan Dianping and Mobike, and unifying the two could help Meituan Dianping battle Ele.me, the $9.6 billion delivery service that Alibaba just bought in full last week. Indeed, Caixin reports that Tencent CEO Pony Ma himself brokered the deal.
Mobike and Ofo pioneered bike-sharing in China and the rest of the world. Mobike raised nearly $1 billion from investors that, Tencent aside, include Temasek, Foxconn, Hillhouse Capital and Vertex Ventures.
Mobike, which claims 30 million rides per day, has been an investment and acquisition target for many.
Last year, a deal to merge with close rival Ofo was widely speculated. Ultimately, reports suggest that it fell through out of fear that Didi Chuxing, the ride-hailing giant that invested in Ofo, would become too powerful if the two bike-sharing firms tied up. That theory seemed to have its merits after Didi rolled out a hostile bike-sharing platform that sits inside its hugely popular ride-hailing app and is aimed at extinguishing the threat of Ofo, Mobike and others by simply turning them into features rather than fully-fledged rivals.