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China ride-hailing giant Didi plans Chile, Peru launches to take on Uber

Didi's widening expansion, if successful, could make for a bumpier ride for San Francisco-based Uber Technologies

Reuters  |  Santiago/Buenos Aires 

Didi Chuxing
Logo of Didi Chuxing is seen at its headquarters in Beijing, China. (Photo: Reuters)

Chinese ride-hailing giant is planning to take on U.S. rival Uber in some of Latin America's fastest-growing markets, recruiting managers in Chile, and Colombia, according to job postings and a

Didi has moved senior executives from to lead its expansion in markets like and Peru, and began in recent weeks advertising for operations, crisis management, marketing and business development personnel in those countries, an analysis of postings show.

Didi's widening expansion, if successful, could make for a bumpier ride for San Francisco-based in Latin America, one of its fastest growth regions, as it gets ready to go public as soon as later this year.

The two firms are already battling in Brazil, where Didi bought local start-up 99 in January last year, and Mexico, where the Chinese firm lured drivers with higher pay and bonuses for signing up other drivers and passengers.

Didi is China's dominant ride-hailing firm and is backed by investors including Japan's In 2016, Didi bought Uber's local Chinese operations following a bruising two-year battle for domination in

The push comes as Didi is laying off staff in as it grapples with regulatory scrutiny, reportedly significant financial losses and public backlash over the murder of two of its customers, sources told

The firm's new public affairs manager, Felipe Contreras, who was previously Uber's in Chile, confirmed reports Didi was looking to hire a from Chilean cellular phone company to lead its engagement with government and public policy operations.

"We haven't announced a date; this is internal to the company," he said when asked about the timing of the hiring.

Contreras confirmed the launch plans and told that the company's aim was to be a "market leader" in based on "quality", in a market where Uber, Spain's Cabify and Greece's Beat already transport thousands of passengers a day.

Didi is still mulling the "best time" to launch its local service, he said, saying: "We are still in the planning and recruitment phase."

Chile's government has yet to pass a law regulating ride-sharing applications, resulting in a legal gray area which sees Uber, Cabify and Beat drivers routinely fined by the police for operating without public transport licenses.

The law is still at committee stage and would need approval by both Chile's lower and upper chambers, a process which could take up to a year.

Contreras said the timeline for Didi's launch would "not necessarily" hinge on the law's eventual passing. "We are studying all the variables," he said.

First Published: Sat, February 16 2019. 18:44 IST