ANI Techonologies, which operates Ola Cabs, India's largest ride-hailing app services provider, is close to announcing a new blockbuster round of funding as it moves to defend its turf against Uber Technologies.
The investment in the SoftBank Group Corp.-backed Indian startup will be "north of $500 million," a source close to the plan told International Business Times Wednesday, on condition of anonymity.
Existing investors are expected to join the round, which could value the company at "over two times what it was the last time they raised money," the source said. Subject to last-minute negotiations and agreements, that puts the company on track to achieving a value "upwards of $5 billion."
The last time Bangalore's ANI announced a large investment was the $400 million it raised in April, with investors including DST Global joining in. The ride-hailing startup was valued at about $2.5 billion at the time.
The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday that ANI was raising $226 million and headed for a valuation of $5 billion. This is part of the same "larger investment that Ola intends to announce in the next couple of weeks," the source told IBT.
Meanwhile Ola has also announced an agreement to invest 1.5 billion rupees ($23 million) in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, where the company is targeting to increase the number of cabs to 50,000 over three years -- from the current 10,000 -- and offer skill-development programs to drivers on its network. Ola has signed a memorandum of understanding with the state government to this effect, the company said, in a press release Wednesday.
Competition between Ola Cabs and Uber has risen to fever pitch for dominance of the Indian market, where demand for cabs is estimated to outstrip supply by five to one.
Earlier this year, Uber announced it is building a national operations center in Andhra Pradesh, with an investment of $50 million. Uber has committed to investing about $1 billion in India, its largest and fastest-growing market outside the United States.
Ola, currently the market leader, makes over a million bookings a day with some 250,000 cabs plying in more than 100 cities. It also operates 65,000 auto rickshaws on its network, and expects to reach 200 cities next year.