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Chinese Uber rival revives UK launch plans

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Published Time: 11.05.2024 - 17:40:28 Modified Time: 11.05.2024 - 17:40:28

Didi app lays groundwork to operate in Rotherham and Salford, among other cities Yan Cong/Bloomberg Uber’s Chinese rival is laying the groundwork to enter the UK, three years after it was forced to suspend plans to launch in British cities

Didi app lays groundwork to operate in Rotherham and Salford, among other cities

: Yan Cong/Bloomberg

Uber’s Chinese rival is laying the groundwork to enter the UK, three years after it was forced to suspend plans to launch in British cities.

Didi Global has acquired operating licences in cities including Rotherham, Rochdale and Salford in recent months in a move that would allow it to offer rides in Britain.

The company has also secured planning permission for offices, stating that it intends to run private hire operations from the building. 

It is understood that the company is not imminently intending to start offering rides in Britain but is keeping a skeleton operation running should it seek to revive plans in the future.

Didi entering the UK would mark a new challenge to Uber, which has been forced to grant workers’ rights to drivers and pay hundreds of millions in VAT to HMRC after court rulings in recent years.

Its Chinese rival made plans to start offering rides in the UK in 2021. At the time, MPs had raised concerns about whether the service would transfer users’ location data to China.

However, Didi suspended its launch plans and laid off staff amid a cybersecurity probe by the Chinese government, as first revealed by The Telegraph.

Its app was removed from Chinese app stores and the company was banned from signing up new users.

Didi’s move to list in New York also angered Beijing authorities and the company’s share price went into freefall amid the crackdown, before the company delisted in 2022

More recently Didi has focused on markets in Asia, Australasia and South America and is reportedly planning to list in Hong Kong this year.

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