Uber revs up on investment from Indian conglomerate’s fund

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Global cab hailing firm Uber today announced that it secured funding from Tata Opportunities Fund (TOF), a subsidiary of Indian conglomerate Tata Group.

While it did not disclose the exact amount, the press statement said TOF will make a significant investment in Uber.

“Tata is synonymous with entrepreneurialism in India and I am incredibly excited to have the Tata Opportunities Fund on board as a partner,” said Travis Kalanick, CEO of Uber Technologies. “We’re particularly focused on building a service for hundreds of millions of Indians and Tata’s leadership and experience will be crucial in helping us meet this important goal.”

Tata Group has interests in a wide range of sectors including automobile, telecom, jewellery, and steel. The fresh funding will help Uber expand its services in India by leveraging TOF’s network within the wider Tata Group as well as externally.

Uber launched in India less than two years ago. It has 150,000 drivers across 18 Indian cities and claims to have gained a market share of over 35 percent in the country.

Uber’s partnership with the Tata Opportunities Fund follows other strategic relationships with Baidu in China, AmericaMovil in Latin America, and American Express in the US. Uber is leveraging the deep local understanding of these partners to increase the adoption of its services in the 330 cities in which it has presence.

This is the first investment made by TOF in a global company headquartered outside India. TOF received commitment of US$600 million from marquee global investors in early 2013. To date, the fund has committed about US$400 million to six companies including Ginger Hotels, Varroc Engineering, Shriram Properties, and TVS Logistics.

“The Tata Opportunities Fund is delighted to support Uber’s growth around the globe, more recently in China and India,” said Padmanabh (Paddy) Sinha, managing partner of TOF’s advisory team in India. “Uber’s technology continues to transform the way millions of people commute. It has grown at an astonishing rate and continues to lead the way in the Internet economy.”

Interestingly, Uber’s local rival Ola has raised funding from Ratan Tata, chairman emeritus of Tata Sons last month. Ola is also a heavily funded player having raised US$600 million, and rumored to be on its way to raising more. Right now, Ola seems to be way ahead of Uber in the country.

Uber had earlier said that it will pump US$1 billion into its India operations. Those deep pockets could help Uber gain wider share through more drastic discounts.

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