UPDATE 1-China's Didi Chuxing buys control of Brazil's 99 ride-hailing app

(Updates with official confirmation)

BRASILIA/SAO PAULO, Jan 3 (Reuters) - China's ride-hailing application Didi Chuxing has agreed to acquire control of Brazil's 99, the companies said in a statement on Wednesday, potentially creating a formidable rival to Uber in Latin America's largest economy.

The companies did not disclose the stake acquired not the value, but an earlier report by Brazilian newspaper Valor Econômico on Wednesday said the deal valued 99 at $1 billion.

According to the paper, which cited sources familiar with talks, the Chinese company bought out investors such as Riverwood Capital, Monashees Inc., Qualcomm Ventures, Tiger Global Management LLC and Softbank Group Corp.

The acquisition intensifies Didi's global rivalry with Uber, especially in Latin America. Reuters reported in December that Didi plans to enter Mexico this year.

Cheng Wei, founder and CEO of Didi, said in Wednesday's statement that "globalization is a top strategic priority for Didi."

Didi first invested $100 million in 99 in January 2017, getting a stake and management rights in the Brazilian app.

One source with knowledge of the matter said the funds selling their stakes in 99 started looking for a buyer several months ago, in mid-2017.

Riverwood, Monashees, Tiger Global, and Soft Bank Group did not reply to requests for comment.

Didi has made no secret of its desire to expand beyond China, particularly in light of the growing number of Chinese customers who travel overseas.

In December, Didi raised $4 billion from investors, in part to fund global expansion, following on from a $5.5 billion fundraising in April. (Reporting by Jake Spring in Brasilia, Tatiana Bautzer and Gram Slattery in Sao Paulo; Editing by Adrian Croft and Rosalba O'Brien)