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Didi Chuxing, the Chinese ride-hailing giant, is planning to launch in Europe in the first half of this year, it has been reported.

The entry of the Didi, which is expected to IPO with a $60bn valuation this year, will represent a sizable threat to Uber, which has been battling the advances of other competitors like Free Now, Gett, and Bolt.

The move by Didi will likely help the company achieve further growth ahead of its long-anticipated public listing. Didi is seeking new locations for growth as momentum in China begins to slow. The company already saw off competition from Uber in 2016.

France, the UK, and Germany, are likely to be the first markets to get Didi’s services, Bloomberg reported citing two sources familiar with the plan.

The Beijing-based firm has already hired a team dedicated to the European market and is hiring locally.

SoftBank has piled hundreds of millions of dollars into Didi, with much of its capital allocated for the company’s autonomous cars plans.

Didi already operates in 13 countries beyond China, the majority of which are based in Latin America. In August, it began offering services in Russia.

The company has yet to decide if it will offer its other services beyond ride-hailing, such as food delivery and errand service. The subsequent launches of those services will be dependent on market demand, it was reported.

Didi hopes the European move will help bloat the company’s valuation ahead of an IPO, despite the fact that it is already one of the world’s largest startups.

The company had yet to respond to a request for comment from the Telegraph at the time of writing.

Didi’s proposed move into the UK comes after a monumental High Court ruling against Uber, which found its drivers were entitled to holiday and sick pay and the minimum wage.

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