Didi's offices in Hangzhou, China. Photo by Bloomberg.

TI Briefing: Didi IPO Poses a Puzzle for U.S. Investors

Photo: Didi's offices in Hangzhou, China. Photo by Bloomberg.

Chinese ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing, which filed to go public in the U.S. today, has a subsidiary called City Puzzle Holdings Ltd. listed in a chart of its byzantine corporate structure. Investors may find that an appropriate metaphor for assessing Didi as an IPO prospect, particularly compared to the two U.S.-based firms, Uber and Lyft, neither of which have been hot stocks since they went public two years ago. 

By some measures, Didi appears to be a more appealing IPO candidate. It came through Covid much better off than its U.S. peers and is now growing quickly. Its ride-hailing operation—Didi’s main business—basically doubled in size in the first quarter whereas Uber and Lyft continued to see savage declines from the pre-Covid first quarter a year ago. On the other hand, comparing these companies is complicated because Didi recognizes revenues the opposite way Uber and Lyft do it, by including the portion of passenger fares it pays out to drivers.

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