SoftBank may pump up to $300 mn in Ola as Uber steps on gas

Japan's SoftBank Corp is likely to invest up to $250-300 million (Rs2,000 crore) in cab-hailing service provider Ola to enable it to compete with US-based rival, which is stepping up investments in India after selling its China business to rival Baidu, an economically powerful and politically connected company.

Reports quoting sources close to the development said ANI Technologies, the parent of Ola, currently, India's largest taxi-hailing service, will be raising $250-300 million in a new round of funding led by SoftBank.

Ola is expected to raise $250-300 million in a new round of funding led by the Japanese telecom and internet major and other existing investors, reports said, adding that an announcement is expected to be made in the next few weeks.

The move comes after Uber announced plans to aggressively ramp up operations in India after it exited China in July.

SoftBank Group International President Alok Sama had recently said the company was focused on consolidating its investments in the Indian market and aggressively backing its investment here. Its two largest investments in India include Ola and e-commerce major Snapdeal.

Bengaluru-based Ola has raised over $1.3 billion (roughly Rs8,600 crore) from investors, including SoftBank Group, Tiger Global, Matrix Partners, Steadview Capital, Sequoia India, Accel Partners US and Falcon Edge.

With over 4.5 lakh vehicles registered on its platform, Ola offers services across more than 100 cities in India.

Ola has been aggressively on-boarding driver partners on its platform and has also expanded to new categories like luxury car rentals and subscription services to attract premium customers. It had launched its leasing business to strengthen supply of drivers.

SoftBank Corp is aggressively backing e-commerce firm Snapdeal and Ola, two of its biggest portfolio companies in India, as the two fight it out in the market with global giants Amazon and Uber, for a larger share in the world's fastest growing major economy.

SoftBank is already the biggest investor in Indian consumer internet space and has invested over $2 billion in the last two years and is looking for consolidation of its Indian investments. At the same time, it is also on the hunt for emerging "disruptive" concepts in the financial services and healthcare space, an earlier report quoted Alok Sama as saying.