China's Baidu to invest in taxi-hailing app Uber

BEIJING - Search engine Baidu Inc will invest in taxi-hailing app maker Uber Technologies Inc, a person familiar with the matter said on Friday, becoming the latest Chinese Internet firm to take an interest in the flourishing market for transportation apps.

The size of Baidu's investment - and its valuation of Uber - are unknown, but the Chinese firm has scheduled a press conference to announce an investment into an unnamed US-based startup on Dec 17 in Beijing.

State media outlet China National Radio reported the deal earlier this week.

Uber's alliance with Baidu mirrors partnerships between dominant Chinese taxi-hailing apps Kuaidi Dache and Didi Dache, which have been backed by Baidu rivals Alibaba Group Holding Ltd and Tencent Holdings Ltd respectively.

Uber said earlier this month it raised funding valuing the company at US$40 billion (S$50 billion), propelling it into the ranks of the world's most richly valued private companies.

The US startup has suffered a number of setbacks this week. Thailand and Spain are among countries to have halted its services for regulatory reasons, while in India, the arrest of an Uber driver accused of rape has led to a ban and a review of safety.

An Uber spokeswoman in Singapore did not respond to a request for comment.