Ant Financial-backed Hellobike seeks to raise at least $500m in funding

HelloBike bicycles stand parked on a sidewalk in Shanghai, China, on Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2019. Photographer: Qilai Shen/Bloomberg

Hellobike, a bicycle-sharing startup backed by Ant Financial, plans to raise at least $500 million in funding as it fights for customers in a brutal Chinese market, people familiar with the matter said.

The startup could seek as much as $1 billion as it gauges interest from both existing investors and new backers, the people said, requesting not to be named because the matter is private. While the Shanghai-based company’s valuation wasn’t clear, in June it said it was worth $2.3 billion.

Just a few years after Chinese startups built dockless bike-sharing into a global business, the sector is floundering as pioneer Ofo flirts with bankruptcy and Mobike shows no signs of ending losses. Hellobike, a relative late-comer, emerged as a strong contender with the backing of Ant Financial, which is leveraging the platform to win mobile payments business.

Though the funding may look surprising given the financial tumult, Hellobike is part of a proxy war in China. Ant Financial is the finance affiliate of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., which is locked in brutal fight for e-commerce customers with Meituan Dianping, the owner of Mobike.

Hellobike and Ant Financial, formally known as Zhejiang Ant Small & Micro Financial Services Group Co., declined to comment in separate emailed statements.

While Hellobike has managed to remain a standalone entity and now has 200 million registered users, it’s done so by repeatedly raising new capital.

Hellobike tapped investors at least twice last year, completing a 4 billion yuan ($596 million) round as recently as December, according to Chinese news publication Jiemian. Co-founder Li Kaizhu said in a January interview that the company would seek a future initial public offering without specifying a time-frame.

Meituan’s $3.4 billion purchase of Mobike is proving problematic with Hellobike’s heavy investment in the sector. Since the deal, Meituan has announced plans to pull out of most overseas markets and reduce the number of bikes it has on the streets as it tries to turn a profit.

Bloomberg

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.