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Japan’s SoftBank Group agreed to invest $100 million in Brazilian ride-hailing app 99, the startup said on Wednesday, capping off a fund-raising round totaling more than $200 million.
The investment turns up the heat on Uber, which had been touting its success in Latin American markets. As the ride-hailing goliath stumbles amid lawsuits and investigations, its rivals have seized the moment to capitalize and bring in cash.
Uber’s US arch-rival, Lyft, recently closed a $600 million round of funding lead by KKR & Co. Now, Brazil-based 99 will have a flush war chest to take on Uber in one of its most important emerging markets.
Press representatives for 99 declined to specify how big a stake SoftBank’s investment entailed. The transaction is subject to approval by Brazil’s Cade antitrust regulator.
In January, Didi Chuxing, China’s largest ride-hailing company, spearheaded an initial investment of more than $100 million in the Brazilian firm.
The capital injection underscores strong investor demand for the fast-growing ride-hailing market in Latin America’s largest economy despite ongoing legal battles that could sharply increase operating costs.
On Tuesday, a Brazilian state appeals court ruled that a driver working for rival Uber Technologies Inc was not entitled to workers’ benefits, overturning a lower court decision looming over the San Francisco-based company. The driver may yet appeal to Brazil’s top court.
99’s discount service, known as 99 POP, competes directly with Uber, seeking to lure drivers by retaining a smaller share of what passengers pay for a ride. The app also allows clients to hail taxis and luxury vehicles.
The Brazilian firm, launched in 2012, said it has more than 14 million registered users who have been served by more than 200,000 drivers.