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China's Meituan Dianping posts wider 4Q loss

Meituan, which offers a range of services including food delivery, local listings and online bookings.   © Reuters

HONG KONG (Nikkei Markets) -- China's Meituan Dianping reported a wider loss in the fourth quarter as rising costs of food delivery riders and payment processing weighed on the online food delivery to ticketing services firm.

Net loss for the quarter ended December stood at 3.41 billion yuan ($511.5 million), compared with a loss of 2.18 billion yuan a year ago, the company said in an exchange filing. Revenue surged 89% to 19.80 billion yuan. Cost of revenue more than doubled to 15.3 billion yuan in the quarter.

Gross transactions volume jumped 33% to 138 billion yuan as the number of transacting users and their purchasing frequency increased, the company said.

Meituan, which offers a range of services including food delivery, local listings and online bookings, said in 2019 the company plans to further improve the platform's ability to make money "prudently" and explore new initiatives, even as it seeks to maintain leadership in the food delivery business.

Food delivery accounts for nearly 56% of its revenue.

The company, backed by Tencent Holdings, is locked in a high-stakes battle for market share with Alibaba Group Holding-owned Ele.me service and SoftBank-backed ride-hailing and delivery company Didi Chuxing. The company had a market leading 64.1% share of the food-delivery market in China as of February, according to numbers compiled by DCCI Data Center of China Internet, a research company.

"We will take a more disciplined approach when allocating capital resources for our new initiatives and will be more selective in scaling up new initiatives," the company said, adding that it is also aiming to narrow the operating losses in its car-hailing and bike-sharing businesses.

Meituan will "prudently explore" the opportunities in new retail areas such as non-food delivery, it added.

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