China's Meituan-Dianping raises $4 billion, valuing firm at $30 billion

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BEIJING (Reuters) - Meituan-Dianping on Thursday said it has raised $4 billion in a funding round that values China’s largest on-demand services provider at $30 billion, as part of a strategy to compete with the country’s leading e-commerce firms in offline retail.

Meituan-Dianping in a statement said the round was led by existing investor Tencent Holdings Ltd 0700.HK, with participants including Sequoia Capital Ltd, Singaporean sovereign wealth fund GIC Pte Ltd [GIC.UL] and Tiger Global Management LLC.

Reuters reported in August that Meituan-Dianping was considering raising up to $5 billion.

Earlier this year, Meituan-Dianping announced plans to invest in offline services and artificial intelligence technology (AI), amid a push by China’s top tech firms into brick-and-mortar retail.

Often compared to services from Yelp Inc YELP.N and Groupon Inc GRPN.O, Meituan-Dianping is an online platform for a range of services including movie ticketing, food delivery, restaurant bookings, beauty services, travel and luxury goods.

Its biggest rivals include e-commerce pair Alibaba Group Holding Ltd BABA.N and Inc JD.O, both of which have championed a shift into offline stores in recent years, spurred by developments in cloud computing and big data technology.

Meituan-Dianping’s plans include opening a chain of offline stores, beginning in Beijing earlier this year, as well as developing technology in logistics and AI.

In July, Meituan-Dianping’s vice-president of strategy told Reuters the firm was not considering an initial public offering until it had established infrastructure for services including offline retail, and had roughly $3 billion in cash reserves remaining from a previous funding round.

Meituan-Dianping said it has 280 million users and serves as a platform for roughly 5 million businesses.

Reporting by Cate Cadell; Editing by Clarence Fernandez and Christopher Cushing