Investors Including Tencent, Priceline Pump $4 Billion into Online Lifestyle Platform -- Update

Published October 19, 2017
Dow Jones Newswires

Meituan-Dianping, a Chinese lifestyle-services internet platform, raised $4 billion from an investor group led by social-media giant Tencent Holdings Ltd, a deal that pinned a $30 billion valuation on the Beijing-based upstart.

U.S. travel portal Priceline Group was a new investor in the latest funding round, contributing $450 million, Priceline said in a regulatory filing. Existing investors such as Sequoia Capital, Singapore sovereign-wealth fund GIC Pte Ltd, the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board and others also participated in the fundraising. The company last year raised $3.3 billion in a funding round.

Founded in 2015 through a merger between two large internet firms, Meituan.com and Dianping Holdings Ltd., Meituan-Dianping runs an app similar to Yelp Inc. in the U.S., matching consumers with entertainment and other services such as restaurants, hairdressers, and food delivery. Such apps go much further in China, letting users buy movie tickets, hail rides and book travel accommodations.

Competition for consumer spending in what is known as China's internet-driven lifestyle services market has intensified in recent years. Meituan-Dianping's biggest rival is Koubei, a platform backed by Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., which earlier this year said it had raised $1.1 billion from investors.

Koubei was a relatively late entrant to the industry in 2015, but has quickly gained market share. In the first half of 2017, total transactions by the two companies were almost on par, with Meituan-Dianping edging out a narrow lead with 171.3 billion yuan ($25.9 billion) worth of transactions, according to estimates from industry researcher Analysys.

Tencent and Alibaba have been locked in a fierce battle for consumers in China. Both companies have been trying to cross-market products to individuals and collect a wealth of consumer data crucial to attracting online advertising revenue.

Meituan-Dianping now has a higher valuation than U.S. peers such as SpaceX and WeWork. The Chinese company, which operates in 2,800 cities and has 5 million merchants listed on its app, plans to use the money it raised to expand into existing areas of dining, on-demand delivery, travel, and entertainment. It also plans to invest in new technologies.

Priceline, which is based in Norwalk, Conn., said one of its online reservation websites plans to join with Meituan-Dianping on travel and leisure opportunities created by what Priceline called "China's exceptionally large travel market."

Write to Liza Lin at Liza.Lin@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

October 19, 2017 11:38 ET (15:38 GMT)