Caixin
Jun 04, 2018 07:51 PM
BUSINESS & TECH

Hellobike to Pedal Up From Behind With Ant Financial’s $296 Million

Jiangsu Youon's shared bikes await riders on a street in Luoyang, Henan province. Photo: VCG
Jiangsu Youon's shared bikes await riders on a street in Luoyang, Henan province. Photo: VCG

One of China’s largest bike-sharing startups has secured a 1.9 billion yuan ($296 million) investment from a unit of e-commerce juggernaut Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., which values the company at around $1.47 billion.

The operator of the country’s third-largest shared-bike brand Hellobike — Jiangsu Youon Low Carbon Tech Ltd. Co. — has secured investment from a subsidiary of Ant Financial Services Group, its parent company, Youon Technology Co. Ltd., said in a filing (link in Chinese) to the Shanghai Stock Exchange on Friday.

“In recent years, the shared-bike sector has attracted dozens of players,” the filing said. “But cutthroat market competition also means that prolonged investment is needed as profitability for the industry won’t be possible in the near and medium term.”

After the deal, an Ant Financial wholly owned unit — Shanghai Yunxin Venture Capital Management Co. — will have a 36.7% stake in Jiangsu Youon, an increase from 27.6%, while the parent company’s share will go down to 8.8%.

Shanghai Yunxin has been Jiangsu Youon’s largest shareholder since December, when it led in a $350 million fundraising round.

The Jiangsu province-based Youon, whose main business is selling and managing bike-rental systems for local governments in smaller cities, has since 2016 muscled into the private bike-sharing market where consumers can just scan a barcode and ride for 30 minutes for around 1 yuan.

Jiangsu Youon acquired rival Hellobike in October. It then raised $150 million in December from a consortium led by Chinese conglomerate Fosun Group.

Unlike industry leaders Ofo and Beijing Mobike Technology Co. Ltd., which focus on major cities such as Shanghai and Beijing, Hellobike targets mainly third- and fourth-tier cities.

The concept of bike-sharing, which provides solutions to the “last mile” transportation problem, has widely been welcomed by the public, but major operators are still struggling to find a sustainable and profitable business model.

Ofo, which had 1,500 employees at its peak, is in a liquidity crisis and has recently made massive layoffs, according to local media.

In 2017, Jiangsu Youon lost 489 million yuan on revenue of 128 million yuan.

Contact reporter Mo Yelin (yelinmo@caixin.com)

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