By Paul Carsten
BEIJING (Reuters) - China's dominant mobile car-ride hailing company Didi Kuaidi said it raised $2 billion in a fundraising round as competition with U.S. rival Uber Technologies Inc heats up on its home turf.
Didi Kuaidi, which has the largest market share of car-hailing apps in China, said in a statement on Wednesday that the funding amount may rise by another "few hundred million" due to what it said was tremendous interest from global investors.
Didi Kuaidi said the fundraising will lift its cash reserves to $3.5 billion.
The company's latest fundraising, which sources say values the company as high as $15 billion, will intensify its battle with Uber, which recently said it would spend more than $1 billion in the world's second-largest economy as it continues an aggressive ramp-up.
"There are a few things we're expanding into right now to establish our leading position in the full service transportation platform worldwide," Didi Kuaidi President Jean Liu told Reuters, highlighting bus and chauffeur services.
Liu said the company would remain focused on China and the transport market, but declined to comment on Didi Kuaidi's valuation post-fundraising.
But the need for such large amounts of money hints at a battle with Uber like that between Didi and Kuaidi before their $6 billion merger in February. Part of the logic for the tieup between the pair, originally backed by Tencent Holdings Ltd and Alibaba Group Holding Ltd respectively, was to cut down on the hundreds of millions of dollars being spent on subsidies to attract new passengers and drivers.
Uber and Didi Kuaidi have already traded blows, boasting of their respective gains and their strong positions.
Didi Kuaidi "has established clear competitive advantages through its integrated platform, technology and team," Chief Executive Officer Cheng Wei said in the statement.
The company's new investors include Capital International Private Equity Fund and Ping An Ventures, part of Ping An Insurance Group Co of China Ltd.
Existing stakeholders, including Alibaba, Tencent, Temasek Holdings (Private) Ltd and Coatue Management, also took part in the latest fundraising, the statement said.
(Editing by Miral Fahmy and Kenneth Maxwell)