SoftBank Vision Fund bets RM6.1b on China’s used-cars giant

HONG KONG • SoftBank Vision Fund is investing US$1.5 billion (RM6.1 billion) in Chinese car trading platform Chehaoduo Group, placing another major bet on the world’s largest automobile market.

The investment values Chehaoduo, the parent of online sites Guazi and Maoduo, at more than US$9 billion, a representative for the start-up said.

It intends to use the money to develop technology in data and cloud computing, the firm said in a statement.

SoftBank Group Corp and its Vision Fund, the world’s single largest pool of tech investment capital, have poured billions of dollars into the world’s second largest economy.

They’re a backer of Didi Chuxing, the ride-hailing service that ran Uber Technologies Inc out of the country, as well as social media giant Bytedance Ltd and artificial intelligence (AI) player SenseTime Group Ltd.

Chehaoduo, backed by social media and gaming giant Tencent Holdings Ltd, said it will improve services in down payments, second-hand car trading and after-market services via more than 600 physical stores.

“The global automotive industry is experiencing unprecedented change,” Mark Yang, Chehaoduo’s CEO, said in the statement. “The application of big data and AI is the key to fundamental reform of automotive retail in China.”

“China’s used car market is growing rapidly, but online penetration remains low and auto financing is underutilised compared to developed markets,” Eric Chen, a partner at SoftBank Investment Advisors, said in the statement. — Bloomberg