(Updated) Philippine businessman says in talks to partner China’s DiDi for ride-hailing services

The logo of Chinese ride-hailing firm Didi Chuxing is seen at their new drivers center in Toluca, Mexico, April 23, 2018. REUTERS/Carlos Jasso

Editor’s note: This story was updated at 7.30 pm SGT on November 4 after DiDi clarified that it has no plans to expand to the Philippines.


A Philippine politician and businessman has claimed his firm is in talks with Didi Chuxing, China’s largest ride-hailing company with 550 million registered users, to jointly offer ride-hailing services in the country.

Luis “Chavit” Singson, who is the mayor of Narvacan town, Ilocos Sur, told the Inquirer that DiDi is holding negotiations with U-Hop Transportation Network Vehicle System Inc (U-Hop), one of the 10 companies authorised by the transport regulator to operate ride-sharing services in the Philippines.

Singson owns U-Hop, which is renewing its accreditation before the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB). Other small players in the country’s ride-sharing space are Go Lag, Owto, and Hype. Grab is the dominant player with a market share of over 90 per cent.

Singson did not provide further details about the talks with Didi but said a deal could help Filipinos.

“We do not have plans to expand to the Philippines,” a DiDi spokesperson said in response to our queries.

Philippine laws limit foreign companies’ ownership of ride-hailing businesses in the country to just 40 per cent. This provision of the law has so far prevented Indonesian ride-hailing firm Gojek from securing a licence in the country. The firm applied for a licence to operate in Manila in August 2018 through wholly-owned subsidiary Velox but was denied in January after ride-hailing was added to a list of industries where foreign ownership is limited to 40 per cent.

Didi’s reported attempt to challenge Grab in the Philippines could come as a surprise to some considering that the Chinese ride-hailing giant is a Grab investor. Didi, however, is not new to taking on companies it has a stake in.

In Latin America, for instance, Didi competes with Uber, which exited China in 2016. As part of its China exit, Uber acquired a 6 per cent stake in Didi, which also got equity in Uber.

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.