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July 7, 2017

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Ofo raises US$700m as rivalry heats up

BIKE rental company Ofo said yesterday it had raised US$700 million in fresh funding from institutional investors including Alibaba Group, Hony Capital and CITIC Private Equity, as well as existing investors Didi Chuxing and DST Global.

The funding pushes the battle against major rival Mobike to a new level after Mobike announced a US$600 million investment led by Tencent Holdings.

Ofo said it plans to deploy 20 million bikes to reach 200 cities in 20 countries across the glob. The company has recorded more than 2 billion rides by more than 100 million users since its debut less than three years ago.

The number of rental bikes and users has boomed in less than a year since the two market leaders raised large amounts of capital to subsidize riders with free rides and cash coupons.

More than 10 million shared bikes from more than 30 companies are on the streets of Chinese cities.

But analysts worry the bike-sharing sector could follow ride-hailing apps Didi and Kuaidi, forced to merge in early 2014 to cut loss-making competition.

“Ofo’s expansion plan obviously paid off but how to keep those active users is an important task in the future,” said Analysys International researcher Wang Chenxi.

Analysys International’s data shows Ofo had more than 25 million active users a month by the end of May as growth surges this year.

Poorly and illegally parked bikes are becoming a problem for city authorities and other road users as the sector booms, prompting calls for an industry-wide overhaul to regularize standards and operations.

Shanghai and Tianjin this week released draft regulations to take effect from October 1, which include rules on maintenance and payments. About18.86 million people were using shared bikes in China at the end of last year, compared with 2.45 million in 2015.



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