Cab rider Ola raises $1.1 bn from venture funds

Ola said it was in advanced talks to raise another $1 billion from existing and new investors thus rounding off what may turn out to be a $2 billion funding round

It's official: Ola has bagged $1 billion in funding and is eyeing yet another billion

"We look forward to helping Ola further develop India's transportation solutions", said Martin Lau, president of Tencent.

"We are thrilled to have Tencent Holdings join us as new partners in our mission to build mobility for a billion Indians", said Ola founder and chief executive Bhavish Aggarwal.

The company, which now has a majority share of India's ride-hailing market, operates in 110 cities and has a wide range of transport options including bikes, auto-rickshaws and electric cars.

"Ola's unique local offerings are tailored to India's burgeoning transportation needs".

Ola says it will use the funding to expand the number of drivers it uses and deepen its presence in India's ride-hailing market, which is reportedly worth $12bn.

This is also Ola's first major fund raising after it raised $500 million from investors in November 2015. Tencent, for example, has invested in similar start-ups to Ola such as Indonesian ride-hailing app Go-Jek.

As per the company's spokesperson, Ola is also preparing to making investments in a number of emerging technologies, including AI and machine learning.

The development just over a week after it was reported that the Bengaluru-headquartered cab aggregator had raised $2 Bn in a funding round led by the investment arm of Chinese Internet giant, Tencent and existing investor, Softbank Group Corp.

Tencent's entry could help Ola counter the influence of its largest shareholder SoftBank. Flipkart leads the charts, having raised at least $2.8 billion in two separate tranches from SoftBank, Tencent, eBay and Microsoft, while Paytm raised $1.4 billion from SoftBank earlier this year.

Indian taxi company Meru Cabs has stepped up its legal challenge against local competitor Ola and USA rival Uber, alleging the firms are abusing their market position, and believes that planned investments in both by Japan's SoftBank underscore its view. It recently invested in Grab, Uber's rival in Singapore, and has a stake in Didi Chuxing in China.

Meru Cabs has filed four complaints with the Competition Commission of India against cab-hailing firms Ola and Uber for allegedly abusing their dominance in four cities by burning vast sums of investor funds to distort the market.

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