China's Didi recruits Colombian drivers ahead of Bogota launch

FILE PHOTO: Logo of Didi Chuxing is seen at its headquarters building in Beijing, China August 28, 2018. REUTERS/Jason Lee

BOGOTA (Reuters) - Chinese ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing said on Monday it is beginning to recruit drivers ahead of its launch in Colombia’s capital Bogota in the coming months.

“We have arrived in Colombia with an attractive offer for those who want to register as drivers and we hope to be able to meet the market’s expectations,” the company said in a statement.

The statement did not specify when Didi’s services would begin in the Andean country.

Didi is planning to take on U.S. rival Uber Technologies Inc in some of Latin America’s fastest-growing markets and has moved senior executives from China to lead its expansion in such places as Chile and Peru.

The company is China’s dominant ride-hailing firm and is backed by investors including Japan’s SoftBank Group Corp.

In 2016, Didi bought Uber’s operations in China following a bruising two-year fight for local domination.

The two firms are already battling for market share in Brazil, where Didi bought local start-up 99 in January 2018, and Mexico, where the Chinese firm lured drivers with higher pay and bonuses for signing up other drivers and passengers.

Uber, is popular in Colombia but illegal and the government has said it will suspend for 25 years the licenses of drivers caught working for the platform.

Didi claims to have 31 million drivers across 15 different products - including services for taxis, buses, bicycles and deliveries - and that it completes more than 10 billion rides a year.

Reporting by Luis Jaime Acosta; writing by Julia Symmes Cobb, editing by G Crosse