Mobile Commerce

Uber China Could Be Headed For Public Spotlight

Uber’s dominance in the Chinese ride-hailing market might be able to make it a publicly traded company — but probably not anytime soon.

Uber is currently raising money from private investors for Uber China, which could mean it is preparing to become a publicly traded stock, but Uber CEO Travis Kalanick has said that he believes in keeping companies private for a significant period of time before bringing them to the public market. This belief was iterated by Nairi Hourdajian, a spokeswoman for the company, in an email interview with Bloomberg.

“Of course there is the possibility that Uber China, which is a separate entity, could at some point in the future list on the Chinese stock market,” Hourdajian wrote in an email. “But as Travis has always made clear, there are many advantages, for investors, to Uber being a private company, in particular having the freedom to take long-term bets.”

While its spokeswoman’s comments don’t suggest that Uber will join the ranks of the public markets anytime soon in China, Liu Zhen, Uber’s head of strategy for China, has said in other interviews that the company may eventually be a public company.

Uber’s Chinese company is being run by Kalanick, who has been focused on the company’s global reach. Eventually, Uber plans to have someone take over the operation. Uber is looking to raise $1 billion to be put into China, which would be at a valuation between $7 billion and $8 billion.

Kalanick told shareholders in a letter in July that in one of Uber’s most popular cities in China, the ride-hailing company is turning out close to 1 million trips a day. That was at the same time he announced Uber’s plans to invest more in the country.

“This kind of growth is remarkable and unprecedented. To put it frankly, China represents one of the largest untapped opportunities for Uber, potentially larger than the U.S. Success in China, however, takes commitment over the long haul and a strong will, coupled with a unique understanding of the differences in China,” Kalanick wrote in the letter.

This most recent news of Uber’s next big plans, however, comes at a time when Uber might be facing another roadblock in the country. Following a sting operation and the arrest of five drivers, an Uber office in Hong Kong was raided by police on Aug. 11. The drivers were arrested under charges of driving without the required permits and insurance, as well as allegedly accepting fares from undercover police officers.

Uber released a statement that backed its drivers and said it follows proper legal protocols.

“Uber ensures that all rides are covered by insurance and all drivers on the platform undergo an extensive background check. We stand by our driver-partners 100 percent and welcome the opportunity to work closely with the authorities towards updated regulations that put the safety and interests of riders and drivers first.”

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