Uber's Indian rival Ola raises $1.1bn investment to deepen market presence

The Ola app displayed on a smartphone

Ride hailing startup Ola on Wednesday said the company has raised $1.1 billion in fresh funds and is on course to raise about a billion more as part of the current financing round, giving the company ample firepower to stave off Uber.

With its latest round of funding, Ola will be making strategic investments in supply, technology, and cutting edge innovations to build for the country's unique transportation needs.

According to the reports that surfaced last week, among the other backers in Ola's financing round was a VC fund jointly run by the University of California's investment arm, Ratan Tata and a number of US-based institutional investors. Ola also intends to go deeper into the Indian market by increasing its penetration.

The ride hailing company is available in 110 cities across India, providing services such as auto-rickshaws, bikes, and vehicles equipped with connected car platform Ola Pay.

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The company is in advanced talks with US-based financial investors for the second tranche, which would also include funds from existing investors, a source close to the company said, declining to be identified as the talks were not yet finalised. Earlier this year, Uber exited direct operations in Russian Federation. The transportation and mobility industries are seeing huge changes globally.

Tencent President Martin Lau said as Ola's offerings were tailored to meet the country's transportation needs, the partnership would enable his firm to be part of the growing ride-hailing space. Bhavish Aggarwal, chief executive officer and a founder of Ola said in a press statement.

The latest funding in Ola is also a clear sign of the largest investors in India's start-up ecosystem closing and consolidating ranks, with Alibaba and SoftBank forging an informal alliance of sorts on one hand, and Tencent and Naspers combining forces on the other. Our ambition is to build a globally competitive and futuristic transportation system in India that will support and accelerate a nation on the move. It recently invested in Grab, Uber's rival in Singapore, and has a stake in Didi Chuxing in China. Ola says that it is developing sustainable transportation solutions in the interest of solving long-term problems around congestion and pollution.

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