By Paul Carsten
BEIJING (Reuters) - Chinese online food delivery service Ele.me said on Tuesday it has raised $350 million from investors including CITIC Private Equity, Tencent Holdings Ltd <0700.HK>, JD.com Inc <JD.O>, Dianping and Sequoia Capital.
The delivery firm, whose name roughly translates as 'Hungry Now?', is part of a trend in China for what is known as online-to-offline (O2O) services. These include taxi hailing and restaurant review apps that link smartphone users with offline businesses.
Ele.me said it would continue to operate independently after the fundraising round. It declined to disclose its current valuation.
As more Chinese use their phones for everything from shopping to booking restaurants, China's internet giants Alibaba <BABA.N>, Tencent and Baidu Inc <BIDU.O> are increasingly investing these services to attract more users to their own platforms.
Alibaba, the world's biggest e-commerce company, and social networking and video games titan Tencent together spent more than $8 billion last year alone backing sometimes strikingly similar ventures, such as taxi hailing apps Kuadi Dache and Didi Dache.
E-commerce firm JD.com is also stepping up its investments in services complementary to its business. Earlier this month, Chinese auto information website operator Bitauto Holdings Ltd <BITA.N> said JD.com and Tencent would together invest about $1.3 billion in the company.
"Ele.me addresses a growing demand among online consumers for quick food delivery, and that makes it a natural partner for JD.com," a JD.com spokesman told Reuters.
Group-buying site Dianping, which is also backed by Tencent and invested in Ele.me, plans to raise around $700 million of funding, people familiar with the matter told Reuters this month, declining to be named as they were not authorised to speak to the media.
(Additional reporting by Beijing Newsroom, editing by Louise Heavens)