Didi and Softbank lead $2.5 billion round for Grab

The taxi-app goldrush continues apace, with southeast Asia’s Grab in line for a $2.5 billion injection, the largest ever financing round seen in the region.

The funding is being led by China’s dominant taxi-app Didi Chuxing and Japan’s investment behemoth SoftBank Group. The pair will put up to $2 billion into Grab, according to a Didi statement, with another $500m coming from elsewhere.

According to its Crunchbase entry, the latest round means that Grab has raised $3.44 billion since its launch in 2012.

Its app has been downloaded more than 50 million times; it handles 3 million rides a day across its various transportation businesses, has more than one million drivers on its books and operates in 65 cities in seven countries.

It also has GrabPay, a digital wallet product originally designed to pay for rides but which it is looking to expand into other sectors.

Grab’s CEO Anthony Tan is embracing this dual approach. He said that the funding will help Grab “achieve an unassailable market lead in ridesharing, and build on this to make GrabPay the payment solution of choice for Southeast Asia.”

However, Grab’s $2.5 billion and funding generally pales into insignificance compared with Didi. This April it confirmed a $5.5 billion round, bringing the total raised so far to just shy of $13 billion.

And while Grab sees three million rides a day, Didi is handling 20 million.

Softbank meanwhile got its fingers burnt when it was forced to write down its investment in India’s taxi app business Ola. It was part of a $400 million Series E round in April 2015, led by Russian investment firm DST Global.

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Didi move spotlights potential activities play (Dec16)

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