The non-stop rollercoaster ride in Didi shares continued Friday, one day after reports that Didi might go private sent the stock into the stratosphere (however briefly) in premarket trading. But the company swiftly denied the report, bringing shares back down to earth, and although Beijing has apparently reconsidered its plan to ban US IPOs (at this point, it might be difficult to find investors willing to risk it on another Chinese firm anyway after the Didi rug-pull), the latest reports Friday morning said China's transport regulator plans to deepen "anti-monopoly supervision" of the country's ride hailing companies.
While Didi currently controls more than 90% of China's ride share market, several of its upstart Chinese rivals have seized on the company's post-IPO troubles (which included seeing Didi's app banned from all Chinese app stores) to try and expand their business.
Didi's US-traded ADRs were down more than 7%.
Yesterday, Nikkei reported that Didi's upstart rivals have apparently discovered the American technique of using investor capital to subsidize rides, incentivizing customers to switch to their app. The move suggests that Didi might be forced to fight another round of brutal pricing wars with a new generation of ride-share rivals, after it already absorbed (or outmaneuvered) competitors like Uber.
Didi was a lifeline for Cindy Zhu. The 29-year-old software engineer at Tencent Holdings in Shenzhen relied on China's largest ride-sharing app to get to work every day. But two weeks ago she started to try four other apps after colleagues told her their rates are cheaper than Didi's.
And they were right. Zhu often received 50% discounts for rides ordered through Alibaba-backed AutoNavi, also known as Gaode. As a new user, she also received generous coupons from other apps, including Caocao Mobility, the ride-hailing arm of automaker Zhejiang Geely Holding, and Ruqi Chuxing, a joint venture between Tencent and state-owned GAC Group.
"I don't use Didi that often now. I use whatever is cheapest," Zhu said. "Their services are not so different."
The fiercest competitors are Meituan’s standalone ride-hailing app, which the food-delivery giant (which has also been targeted during the CCP's tech crackdown) relaunched after Didi's app store ban, and another app from T3, a two-year-old ride-hailing app that's backed by three state-owned auto manufacturers as well as Alibaba, Tencent and Suning.
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