China's first listed bike-sharing company, Changzhou Youon Public Bicycle System Co Ltd, announced its acquisition of Hellobike on Tuesday, acquiring the Shanghai-based bike-rental brand to expand its presence in the fast-growing market.
Youon said in a statement on its website that the company's subsidiary Youon Low Carbon Technology Co Ltd－operator of its bike rental services－would buy a 100 percent stake in Shanghai Junzheng Network Technology Co Ltd, the company behind the Hellobike brand. Youon did not reveal the cost details.
The move is the first of its kind in China's bike-sharing sector, as competition in the domestic market is getting fiercer. Youon said the new acquisition will help it to compete with other major bike-sharing companies.
Hellobike CEO Yang Lei said in an internal letter that after the acquisition, he would be appointed as the new company's CEO.
"The merger will enable us to gain abundant resources, and seek more growth and glamor in this competitive market," Yang said in the statement.
Bike-sharing has boomed in China, with dozens of startups offering colorful free-floating bikes on the streets, enabling convenient trips for those fed up with congested roads. In July, the Ministry of Transport reported that China had more than 16 million shared-bikes.
Founded in 2010, Youon currently provides 800,000 bikes for 20 million users nationwide, covering more than 220 cities in China.
Unlike bike-sharing titans Ofo Inc and Mobike Technology Co, which offer GPS-enabled dockless bikes, Youon mainly operates public city bikes with fixed locking poles.
According to statistics from market researcher QuestMobile, Hellobike ranked No 3 in the bike-sharing industry, attaining more than 3 million monthly active users in September this year. Ofo and Mobike took the top spot and the second place on the list, respectively, both reporting tens of millions of monthly active users.
Zhang Xu, an analyst at Beijing-based internet consultancy Analysys, said as bike-sharing giants Ofo and Mobike dominate the current market, it leaves little room for the further development of smaller bike-sharing companies.
"For small-sized bike sharing firms, winter is coming. And we will see a new round of reshuffling in the industry," said Zhang.