Didi Cancels Planned UK/EU Expansion As Troubles With Beijing Drag On
With Chinese stocks still reeling from Beijing’s ongoing push to bring Big Tech to heel, the beleaguered ride-sharing app Didi has reportedly suspended plans to launch in Britain and Continental Europe, an expansion the company has been planning for years.
The Telegraph reports that while Didi has secured licenses to operate in a handful of British cities. Didi secured licenses to operate in Manchester, Sheffield, Salford and Wolverhampton as part of its effort to challenge Uber directly in the UK.
Beijing’s crackdown on the company, and the subsequent plunge in its share price – which, remember, reportedly prompted Didi to consider going private just a month after its IPO (the biggest involving a Chinese firm in the US since Alibaba listed in 2014) – may have inspired the decision to pull back, as Didi works to preserve its position and defend against encroachment both in China (where Beijing has tacitly encouraged rivals to step up) and the 15 other markets Didi presently operates in.
Those markets include Australia, and parts of Africa and South America.
The decision to pull back from the UK is particularly bad news for the Didi employees who were hired to focus on that market. The company no longer advertises any open jobs in the UK, and the Telegraph’s sources say cuts are coming in Europe within the next month (although some workers will be allowed to continue in other roles).
When approached for comment by the Telegraph, a Didi spokeswoman shared the following statement:
A Didi spokesman said: “We continue to explore additional new markets, liaising with relevant stakeholders in each and being thoughtful about when to introduce our services. As soon as we have news on additional new markets, we look forward to sharing it.”
“We have established an international talent hub in the UK, recognising the exceptional quality of people in the market. Beyond that, any personnel matters remain strictly confidential. We seek to fully comply with all laws and regulations in all markets in which we operate.”
Didi’s app remains un-downloadable across China (though nearly 1 billion Chinese consumers had already downloaded the app when it was forced off line over data privacy concerns). We still haven’t heard anything about the investigation in China, or how it’s going. But as far as its shares are concerned, one thing seems likely: China stocks will likely remain in the doghouse for some time.