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‘Softbank waves to micro-mobility market with plans to invest in Hellobike’
Posted on Friday, 09 November 2018 07:33
Softbank is weighing an investment in Chinese start-up Hellobike, amid fierce competition in the bike-sharing sector, according to recent media reports.

The Information was first to cite people familiar with the matter as saying talks between the two are ongoing and are yet to reach an agreement.

Sources with inside knowledge told Reuters that Softbank is likely to be joined by private equity firm Primavera Capital, among others, in a funding round that could fetch as much as USD 400.00 million.

Hellobike, formally known as Shanghai Junzheng Network Technology, has previously had backing from Alibaba’s Ant Financial and GGV Capital; it raised CNY 2.00 billion (USD 288.34 million) from Shanghai Yunxin Venture Capital in June this year.

When contacted by Reuters, a representative for the potential target declined to comment on the funding but did say the company has already exceeded a valuation of USD 2.00 billion.

Hellobike operates in a competitive industry, one that has significantly expanded in recent years in China, with bike-sharing providers struggling to sustain growth while smaller players have been pushed down by larger businesses in the sector.

The company, according to reports from iiMedia and Analysys, is the country’s third-largest bike-for-rent supplier, with other groups in the sector including Mobike, which was acquired by Metiuan Dianping for USD 2.70 billion in April.

Investors have been tapping the so called ‘micro-mobility’ market as of late, with car manufacturer Ford Motors agreeing to buy electric scooter businesses Spin for a reported value of up to USD 200.00 million earlier today, as well as Uber entering into a partnership with Lime.

The industry has grown rapidly over the last 12-months with a number of major cities worldwide now introducing bikes and scooters, which can be rented, as an alternative to driving and using public transport.

Hellobike now has more than 200.00 million registered bicycles and has entered 300 cities including Ningbo, Nanjing, Xiamen and Qingdao.

Softbank is in the middle of planning a JPY 2,000 billion (USD 17.65 billion) initial public offering expected to take place around 19th December 2018, subject to market conditions.

© Zephus Ltd