Tencent-backed Meituan to buy China bike-sharing firm Mobike

SHANGHAI:  Chinese online services giant Meituan Dianping said yesterday it would acquire bike-sharing start-up Mobike in a deal reportedly worth more than US$3 billion (S$3.94 billion), escalating a turf battle between some of the world's biggest Internet companies.

The acquisition values Mobike's equity at US$2.7 billion and Meituan will also assume roughly US$700 million in debt, Bloomberg News reported, citing unnamed sources with knowledge of the deal.

A joint statement by Meituan and Mobike said the latter would retain its current management and continue to operate as an independent entity.

It did not give financial terms or a timetable for completing the deal.

The acquisition is the latest salvo in a fight for market share largely pitting e-commerce heavyweight Alibaba against social media, messaging and mobile game giant Tencent.

Alibaba and Tencent - two of the world's most valuable companies - are jockeying to build competing all-in-one online services ecosystems that cater to China's hundreds of millions of digitally savvy consumers.

Meituan's acquisition of Mobike - both of which are backed by Tencent - comes just two days after Alibaba announced it was acquiring full ownership of, China's leading food delivery firm and Meituan's main rival.

Alibaba said that deal valued Shanghai-based at US$9.5 billion.

The Tencent-Alibaba tussle revolves around their competing online payment platforms, WeChat Pay and Alipay, and the fight to add a suite of online services - from bike rentals to food delivery and e-commerce - that can be paid for via those digital wallets.

Mobike now claims more than 200 million users who take more than 30 million bike trips every day. - AFP