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SoftBank may invest up to $300 mn in Ola

OlaJapanese Internet and telecom firm SoftBank Group Corp may invest $250-300 million (Rs 1,700-2,000 crore) in ride-hailing service Ola, a media report said.

The Economic Times reported, citing two people it didn't name, that SoftBank will lead the next round of funding in ANI Technologies Pvt Ltd, which runs Ola.

An Ola spokesperson didn't respond to an email seeking comment till the time of filing this article. A spokesperson for SoftBank said in an emailed statement to TechCircle that the company doesn't "comment on speculation".

Earlier this month, The Times of India had reported that Ola was in talks with existing investor SoftBank and US-based automaker General Motors for a fresh fundraise of up to $500 million.

In September, SoftBank had led a funding round of $750 million in taxi app GrabTaxi, a leading player in Southeast Asia.

Earlier this month, SoftBank announced a $100 billion tech fund with Saudi Arabia's sovereign fund. The development was seen as good news for SoftBank's Indian portfolio companies—Snapdeal, Ola, Grofers, Housing, Hike and InMobi.

Some of these firms have been facing huge fund crunch as SoftBank put a pause on writing large cheques. These companies have a glimmer of hope now as SoftBank chairman Masayoshi Son said the new fund would be the biggest investor in tech firms over the next decade.

SoftBank has already invested close to $2 billion in India. The Japanese company led a $627 million funding round in Snapdeal in late 2014 and subsequently participated in the e-commerce marketplace's $500 million fundraise in 2015. It became the lead investor in taxi-app Ola with $210 million nearly two years ago when its then second-in-command Nikesh Arora led its big-bang India entry.

Last week, SoftBank Group International's chief financial officer and president Alok Sama had said that the company will continue to support Ola in its fight with US rival Uber. Sama also said India would remain a strategically important market for SoftBank in the foreseeable future and that nurturing its portfolio companies was a priority.

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