SoftBank-backed leading Indian ride-hailing firm to enter Australia

NEW DELHI, NNA - A leading ride-hailing company in India backed by Japan's SoftBank Group Corp. is set to enter the Australian market this year in its first international debut under a global expansion plan.

ANI Technologies Pvt. Ltd., operating under the trade name of Ola, has started recruiting drivers in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth to register with Ola, aiming to create a "high-quality and affordable travel experience" for Australians, the company said Tuesday.

Ola sees "immense potential for the ride-sharing ecosystem which embraces new technology and innovation," said Bhavish Aggarwal, co-founder and CEO, adding that his firm looks forward to contributing to a healthy mobility ecosystem in Australia.

The app provider said it will share more details later regarding the start of commercial operations, which is subject to necessary regulatory approval.

The Australian taxi industry is in a transition period with regulatory reform, with taxis increasingly using mobile booking applications as opposed to traditional methods of attracting customers, according to a 2016 Deloitte analysis report written for Uber, an Ola competitor which has already advanced into the country.

Founded in 2011, Ola has a network of over one million driver-partners across more than 110 Indian cities. On an aggregate basis, it serves as many as a billion rides annually through its platform, according to the company.

In October last year, Ola raised $1.1 billion under a funding scheme led by China's internet giant Tencent Holdings Ltd. along with the Japanese telecom giant, which holds a "significant stake" in the online taxi aggregator, according to a source familiar with the matter. (NNA/Kyodo)