Didi Chuxing, the app that ate Uber alive in China last year to dominate the country’s ride-hailing market, is set to gobble up another $5 billion to $6 billion in funding and become China’s most valuable startup, Bloomberg reports. Its prospective $50 billion valuation would put it above smartphone maker Xiaomi, currently China’s largest startup, and second only to Uber itself among startups worldwide. Behind the newest round of funding appears to be SoftBank Group Co.’s Masayoshi Son of Japan, who “encouraged Didi Chief Executive Officer Cheng Wei 程维 to take more capital” and pursue new and global opportunities. Cheng’s company has faced regulatory challenges in some Chinese cities, many of which now require Didi’s drivers to be local residents, though Didi won an operating license in the northern metropolis of Tianjin. Now the company with near-monopoly control over China’s ride sharing aims to expand into driverless car technology and artificial intelligence.
- Debt crisis shakes Chinese town, pointing to wider crisis / NYT (paywall)
“Debt in China has expanded twice as fast as the overall economy since 2008,” leading to an increasing frequency of “hidden debt bombs,” the Times reports. One example is that of Zouping, a relatively small city in eastern Shandong Province, where a chain of debt guarantees between private companies was broken, leading to shuttered businesses and a detained executive.
- Chinese tech groups offer housing help to retain talent / Financial Times (paywall)
Internet giant Tencent is offering interest-free housing loans of up to 500,000 yuan ($72,600) to employees, while ecommerce leader Alibaba is building hundreds of apartments and holding a lottery for discounted housing for its workers in Hangzhou.
- Opinion: China’s money is a mixed blessing for Pakistan / Financial Times (paywall)
Pakistan is receiving substantial investment from China, but there is no guarantee that the projects will pay off while the country becomes ever more dependent on foreign loans, the Financial Times argues. In any case, the money seems likely to keep flowing, as Pakistan’s Express Tribune reports that Alibaba’s Jack Ma may visit the country later this year.
- Reform therapy aims to heal financially ailing public hospitals / Caixin
- Vanke’s home-sale permits scrapped in China’s Xi’an in crackdown / Bloomberg