Leading Southeast Asian Taxi app, GrabTaxi, has pulled in $400 million USD in fresh funding from investors including sovereign wealth fund China Investment Corporation (CIC), who reportedly contributed an undisclosed amount to Chinese counterpart Didi-Kuaidi earlier this month. 

It’s not the first time that Didi Kuaidi and GrabTaxi have shared in the same investment family. At the end of last year SoftBank became GrabTaxi’s (then) largest investor, with a $250 million USD investment. SoftBank owns a 36.7% stake in Alibaba which in turn oversees half of the Didi Kuaidi partnership. The latest investment from CIC pulls the two companies under the same investment umbrella once again as they face off rivals including San Francisco-based Uber.

At the time, GrabTaxi CEO Anthony Tan told Technode that GrabTaxi had no ambition to enter the Chinese ecosystem for now, though he noted that success in the car app business hinged on a good relationship with the government.

“Governments in Asia can decide overnight whether to crush you or not,” Tan told Technode in December. “It’s like that in China, and its like that in South East Asia. Governments have a disproportionate amount of power over business.”

GrabTaxi has received funding directly from the Singaporean government in the past, and has successfully partnered with local authorities, giving them a regional edge over competitors. This includes partnerships with police that have allowed them access to their driver’s police records, according to Tan.

The company currently covers a handful of Southeast Asian markets with drivers in Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines, Indonesia and Vietnam. Aside from CIC and SoftBank, GrabTaxi also received funding from Tiger Global Management and Vertex Venture Holding. The company recently opened a new R&D office in Singapore focussed on data analysis, hoping to improve taxi density at peak times as well as coming up with more suitable localized payments options.

The taxi-app market has shifted swiftly over the past six months from a battleground between former rivals Kuidi and Didi to a tense face-off between the Didi Kuaidi coalition and foreign entrant Uber. Other players are also gaining strength as all parties fight to dominate the less-competitive third and fourth tier markets.

CIC is one of China’s four sovereign wealth funds, and is valued at $740 billion USD. This year they launched an overseas foreign direct investment branch, CIC Capital, this year which is aiming to profit from investments in China’a ‘One Belt, One Road’ Asian development strategy. CIC is one of the contributors behind the $40 billion USD Silk Road infrastructure fund, according to state media.


 Image Credit: Shutterstock

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Cate Cadell

Cate is a tech writer. She worked as a journalist in Australia, Mongolia and Myanmar. You can reach her (in Chinese or English) at: @catecadell or catecadell@technode.com

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