Beijing: Didi Chuxing, China’s biggest ride-hailing app, raised $4 billion in a new funding round to fuel its international expansion and development of artificial intelligence.

The money will also be earmarked to build out its service network for electric cars, the Beijing-based company said in an emailed statement Thursday. The funding round was backed by Chinese and foreign investors, Didi said without elaborating.

Didi is the world’s second-most valuable start-up, trailing only Uber Technologies Inc., and was said to have a valuation of $50 billion after raising more than $5.5 billion in April. The latest funding boost deepens Didi’s pockets as it prepares to face off against Uber in markets around the world.

The Chinese company successfully pushed Uber out of its home market in 2016 after a fierce and expensive subsidy war. While it hasn’t been as aggressive as Uber in moving into different countries, Didi now looks set to seek and enter new markets. In August it backed Estonian player Taxify OU with a financial investment and support on technology while a push into Taiwan announced this week will be done under a franchising model. The company is also reportedly planning to launch services in Mexico by the first quarter of 2018.

Didi’s expansion comes at a difficult time for Uber, whose founder Travis Kalanick was replaced by Dara Khosrowshahi earlier this year after a series of scandals hit the company. These ran the gamut from a massive leak of 57 million rider and driver records to revelations that the company ran programs to spy on competitors. Uber lost $1.5 billion in the third quarter of this year, up from $1.1 billion in the prior quarter. Net revenue increased to $2.01 billion in period, up 21% from the previous quarter.

“Didi plans to scale up investments in AI talent and technologies, to further build up its intelligent driving and smart transportation capabilities," the company said in the statement. “We will also embark on initiatives in building new energy vehicle service networks."

Investors in the company include SoftBank Group Corp. and Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala Capital, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing unidentified people familiar with the matter. The funding increases the startup’s cash reserves to $12 billion, the newspaper said. Bloomberg

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