Mobikes are lined up on a street in Zhengzhou, the capital of Henan province. (Photo/China Daily)
Hu Weiwei, founder and president of Chinese bike-sharing major Mobike Technology Co Ltd, said there is no possibility of the company merging with its arch rival Ofo Inc, despite the mounting competition.
"Unlike China's car-hailing and group-buying sector where two frontrunners have merged, the bike-sharing sector features asset-heavy business models and there is no point in merging or acquiring others," Hu said in an interview on the sidelines of the ongoing Annual Meeting of the New Champions 2017, also known as Summer Davos, in Dalian, Liaoning province.[Special coverage]
Her comments came after a rare photo of Hu smiling with Dai Wei, CEO of Ofo, went viral, which sparked speculation of a possible merger between the two.
Previously, Chinese car-haling company Didi Chuxing merged with its rival Uber Technologies Inc's China operation. Meituan.com, a group-buying site and consumer review service Dianping.com, also stopped the price war and joined hands with each other amid pressure from investors.
But according to Hu, the difference from these industries where companies function as an online platform, is that Mobike is deeply involved in the whole industry chain, from bicycle design to manufacturing, and it now owns and operates more than 5 million bicycles.
"It is almost impossible to merge two bike-sharing companies simply by integrating their smartphone apps. Also the products and operating efficiency vary significantly," Hu said.
Mobike and Ofo are locked in a stiff competition for supremacy in the burgeoning sector at both home and abroad. Mobike, backed by Tencent Holdings Ltd, said it now has a presence in 130 cities across China, in the UK, Singapore and Japan and it is seeking to march into 200 cities by the end of this year.
Mobike processes 25 million daily trips at peak times, but it does not provide details of its revenue.
Counting on Didi and Ant Financial, the nation's top e-payment provider, as investors, Ofo also announced plans to enter 20 countries, and the number of the shared bicycles ofo put on the market is expected to reach 20 million by the year-end.
"Our technological edge is the key to supporting foreign expansion," Hu said. Mobike is teaming up with CityVerve, the UK smart city platform, and telecom carrier Vodafone in building an internet of things platform to manage all of its bicycles in the UK. All of its data is stored on Microsoft's cloud service.
Currently, Mobike's bicycles are made in China and shipped to foreign countries, but it is considering overseas production once its foreign business takes off, Hu said.
In January, the company signed an exclusive strategic partnership with Foxconn Technology Group, in a move to double its annual bicycle production capacity to more than 10 million units.