SoftBank to invest in Chinese bike-sharing firm Hellobike: sources–Reuters

What happened: On Wednesday, The Information published a report that Japanese conglomerate SoftBank is in talks to invest in Hello TransTech, formerly known as HelloBike. Reuters has since released a follow-up article stating that, according to inside sources, SoftBank and Chinese company Primavera Capital will take part in a new round of funding for the bike-rental startup. The goal of the fundraising is supposedly to raise another $400 million for the unicorn, which a spokesman said is currently valued at over $2 billion. However, representatives of Hello TransTech, SoftBank, and Primavera have not provided comment on the news of potential investments.

Why it’s important: To outside observers, it may seem surprising that SoftBank would want to invest in the increasingly cutthroat field of Chinese bike-rental. However, Hello TransTech has so far managed to muscle out competition by targeting smaller cities and they recently diversified by launching a ride-hailing service in September. Along with the support of high-profile investors like Alibaba, that may be enough for Hello TransTech to avoid the pitfalls of cash-strapped competitors like ofo, which it’s currently in talks to acquire.

Bailey Hu is based in China’s hardware capital, Shenzhen. Her interests include local maker culture, grassroots innovation and how tech shapes society, as well as vice versa.

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