Chinese officials said to open probe into Uber deal

Chinese officials said to open probe into Uber deal
© Greg Nash

Antitrust authorities are investigating Uber’s planned sale of its Chinese arm to local powerhouse Didi Chuxing, according to multiple reports.

The New York Times reported that an official for China’s antitrust regulator has said that officials “will protect fair competition in the relevant market and safeguard the interests of consumers and the public.” Staffers from Didi have met with officials twice since August, according to Bloomberg.

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The deal, which would result in a company valued at $35 billion, is seen as a way for Uber to stem its losses in China, where it has been locked in a close battle with Didi for control of the market. Earlier this year, the company’s chief executive said it was losing more than a billion dollars per year in China.

Didi was also part of a global effort to create an alliance that could fight Uber, which saw it partner with the company’s primary United States rival, Lyft.

Both companies have amassed allies over the years, with Apple investing $1 billion in Didi and Uber getting support from Chinese giant Baidu. The fight between the two raged for years, even before the Chinese government formally legalized ride-hailing months ago.

The deal will create a dominant player in the Chinese ride-hailing market. It will also make it easier for Uber to pursue its ambitions elsewhere, including its pursuit of self-driving cars in the United States. The company recently announced it would start to assign customers in downtown Pittsburgh to autonomous vehicles — with a driver from the company behind the wheel.