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Two Chinese bike-sharing start-ups score US$200 million investment

China’s two largest bike-sharing services both landed major investments within days of each other, one of them at an unprecedented US$500 million valuation, according to people familiar with the matter.

Beijing-based oFo, which only this week announced a strategic investment from China’s Didi Chuxing, raised at least $100 million from global private equity firms in a round that valued the two-year-old company at a half a billion dollars, the people said, asking not to be identified speaking about a private deal. Didi was part of that round, they said.

Crosstown-rival Mobike separately raised $100 million from Asian-focused Hillhouse Capital and other investors, people familiar with the matter said.

The fundraisings are unusually large for companies at their stage of development, and underscore growing interest in a ride-sharing arena beyond the automobile market dominated by Didi. OFo’s valuation comes just two years after its inception on the grounds of Beijing’s prestigious Peking University as a student project.

Once emblematic of China’s socialist working class, bicycles remain popular among students and urban commuters across the country despite rapidly growing car ownership.