By Sijia Jiang
HONGKONG (Reuters) – China’s Didi Chuxing on Tuesday said it was looking to bring its ride-hailing service to Taiwan via a local franchise partner, potentially marking its first expansion across waters as it looks to take on U.S. rival Uber Technologies Inc [UBER.UL].
Didi Chuxing in a statement said it has authorized franchisee operator LEDI Technology Co to conduct market research and explore community partnerships in Taiwan.
“Together we hope to bring convenient, efficient and affordable ride services to the local community and create more income opportunities. There is no definitive timeline at this moment,” Didi said.
Didi’s investors include Apple Inc, SoftBank Group Corp and Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. It was valued at over $50 billion earlier this year, making it the second most-valuable venture-backed private firm behind Uber.
Taiwan would be Didi’s first destination outside the Chinese mainland and Hong Kong. However it has invested in Uber rivals globally, including U.S.-based Lyft, Brazil’s 99, India’s Ola, Singapore’s Grab, Estonia’s Taxify and the Middle East’s Careem.
Reuters earlier this month reported that Didi planned to expand into Mexico next year..
Legal scrutiny and local opposition from drivers have given ride-hailing firms a bumpy ride in markets across Asia. Uber in February halted operations in Taiwan after high fines imposed by the government, before announcing a resumption in April.
(Reporting by Sijia Jiang; Editing by Adam Jourdan and Chris Cushing)