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Taxi app rival Didi Chuxing to buy Uber's China business in $35 billion deal

Chinese ride-hailing service Didi Chuxing is to acquire Uber's China business, the companies announced on Monday, in a deal, according to a person familiar with the matter, that would value the combined company at $35 billion.

Uber global will receive 5.89 percent in the combined company with "preferred equity interest" which is equal to a 17.7 percent stake. Baidu and Uber's other Chinese shareholders will receive a 2.3 percent stake in Didi Chuxing, taking the stake in combined company to 20 percent.

The $35 billion is made up of Didi's latest $28 billion valuation and $7 billion value for Uber China. Uber declined to comment on the valuation when contacted by CNBC.

An official statement from Didi said that the start-up's founder and, Chairman Cheng Wei, will join the board of Uber. Travis Kalanick, Uber Chief Executive, will join the board of Didi.

Uber has been locked in an intense battle in China with Didi, the country's largest ride-hailing service. The U.S. start-up has lost $2 billion over two years in China, the source said, as it tried to get ahead in the market.

Under the agreement, Uber China will keep its independent branding and business operations to "ensure stability and continuity of service for passengers and drivers". Didi will also integrate the "managerial and technological expertise" of the two companies.

The deal could pave the way for Didi to expand beyond China and into new markets.

"Didi Chuxing will also continue to expand its international strategy. We look forward to working with our partners at home and abroad to create more value for drivers, passengers and communities," Jean Liu, president of Didi Chuxing said in a statement on Monday.

'Stronger together'

The payment confirmation page is displayed on the Didi Chuxing application in this arranged photograph taken in Shanghai, China, on Sunday, May 22, 2016.
Qilai Shen | Bloomberg | Getty Images
The payment confirmation page is displayed on the Didi Chuxing application in this arranged photograph taken in Shanghai, China, on Sunday, May 22, 2016.

Chinese news outlets and social media sites were circulating a blog post believed to be written by Kalanick in which he acknowledged that both Uber and Didi have been spending billions of dollars in China but neither have been profitable.

"Getting to profitability is the only way to build a sustainable business that can best serve Chinese riders, drivers and cities over the long term," Kalanick said.

"I have no doubt that Uber China and Did Chuxing will be stronger together," Kalanick said in the post, according to Chinese reports. CNBC was unable to confirm the veracity of the blog post.

The story was first reported by Bloomberg.

Last week China laid out new rules that legalized ride-hailing apps, a move welcomed by both Didi and Uber.

DidiChuxing, which in Chinese literally translates to "honk honk, commute," was previously known as Didi Kuaidi, after being created in early 2015 from the merger of China's two largest ride-hailing apps at the time, Didi Dache and Kuaidi Dache.

It recently closed a financing round worth $7.3 billion, of which Apple was an investor.

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