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Business

Rolling out joint taxi products to take on Uber

NEW DELHI (NewsRise) -- India's Ola, China's Didi Kuaidi, U.S.-based Lyft and Malaysia's GrabTaxi have teamed up to allow customers to book cabs from each other's taxi-hailing apps in all the regions where they operate, as four of the world's largest cab aggregators strengthen ties to take on U.S. rival Uber.

   Lyft, Didi Kuaidi, Ola and GrabTaxi will collaborate and use one another's technology, local market knowledge and business resources, the companies said in a joint statement. The alliance is an extension of the strategic partnership forged in September between China's largest taxi app Didi Kuaidi and Lyft, the fastest-growing rideshare service in the Unites States.

   "The partnership with Lyft, GrabTaxi and Ola allows Chinese users unprecedented ease of international travel, and helps partners improve our own services leveraging each other's technology and expertise," Cheng Wei, CEO of Didi Kuaidi, said in the statement on Friday.  

   Together, these companies now cover nearly all of Southeast Asia, India, China and the United States, reaching nearly 50% of the world's population, according to the statement. The partners will start to roll out joint products in first quarter of 2016.

   Uber has been facing stiff competition in Asia, where a group of investors including Japan's SoftBank and Russian private equity fund DST have been pouring money into rivals such as Ola, Didi Kuaidi, and Kuala Lumpur-based GrabTaxi. Together, Ola, Didi, Lyft and GrabTaxi have raised more than $7 billion.

   Didi Kuaidi, formed earlier this year after the merger of two of the largest taxi-hailing firms in China-Didi Dache and Kuaidi Dache, has been leading the anti-Uber alliance, pumping funds into Ola and GrabTaxi this year.

   The cross-continent partnership will look to check Uber, which is seeking to raise funding that would value the car-booking company at $62.5 billion, according to a Bloomberg News report, citing people familiar with the matter. Uber is looking to raise as much as $2.1 billion in its latest fundraising round and has filed paperwork in Delaware detailing the plans, the report said.

   China may pass the U.S. to become Uber's largest market by year-end, Uber Chief Executive Officer Travis Kalanick wrote in a letter to investors in June.

   San Francisco-based Uber has been spending heavily to increase its market share internationally, targeting the world's two most populous nations -- China and India. The threat posed by Uber has prompted global taxi apps to rally together to protect their share.

   In India, public transport services in most cities and towns have not kept pace with the needs of a growing population. Ola, owned by ANI Technologies, acquired smaller rival TaxiForSure for $200 million in March to expand in the nation's fast-growing online taxi services business. Uber earlier this year said it would spend $1 billion to expand its reach in India.

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