SoftBank Might Invest $1B In China’s Manbang Group

Japan’s SoftBank might be looking to invest $1 billion in Chinese truck-hailing company Manbang Group.

The Wall Street Journal reported that the investment would be part of a fundraising effort by Manbang Group, which is hoping to raise between $500 million and $1 billion. The company is already backed by Tencent Holdings and Yunfeng Capital, a private equity firm co-founded by billionaire Jack Ma. Other investors include Sequoia Capital China and Hong Kong-based investment firm All-Stars Investment Limited.

Manbang is a tech unicorn (a private company that has a valuation greater than $1 billion) that runs a mobile app platform matching truck drivers with shippers who have cargo to move, similar to Uber Freight. But Manbang also provides car loans, insurance and working capital to its customers.

Sources say that Manbang would use the new funds to help it expand in China’s logistics market, which is expected to reach 9 trillion yuan ($1.4 trillion) this year. An infusion of $500 million would bring the company's value to about $5 billion.

This would be just the latest investment for SoftBank. Late last year, the company announced it had acquired a large stake in ride-hailing company Uber, with shares tendered as part of the deal equal to 20 percent of Uber’s total value. SoftBank was reportedly keeping its stake in the company at 15 percent.

At around the same time, SoftBank led a $120 million investment round in home insurance startup Lemonade.

And earlier this year, SoftBank invested $300 million in Wag Labs, a startup that created an app that connects dog walkers with dog owners. As part of the deal, SoftBank’s managing partner, Jeffrey Housenbold, and senior investor Ted Fike will join Wag’s board. Housenbold will also serve as Wag’s chairman.

In addition, LINE MOBILE, a subsidiary of Line Corporation, which owns and operates the messaging app LINE, announced in February that SoftBank was going to take 51 percent in the company through “a third-party allocation of new shares.”



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