Didi co-founder Liu steps down after decade at helm of Chinese ride-hailing company

Didi co-founder Liu steps down after decade at helm of Chinese ride-hailing company

By Liam Mo and Sarah Wu

BEIJING (Reuters) – Jean Liu, co-founder of Didi Global Inc, has resigned as chairwoman and board director of China’s largest ride-hailing company to take on a new role, according to an internal memo of the company.

Didi, who is seen as China’s answer to Uber but has faced prolonged regulatory scrutiny, will no longer serve as chairman, he said in the memo seen by Reuters.

Liu, a former Goldman Sachs banker who has been at the helm of Didi for a decade, will take on a new role as “permanent partner” and retain her current roles, including chief human resources officer, Liu and CEO Will Cheng said in the internal letter sent to employees on Sunday.

“I hope to be able to focus more on the long-term development of the company in the future,” Liu said in the letter, citing talent and corporate social responsibility as priority areas.

Liu, the daughter of Lenovo Group founder Liu Chuanzhi, has been heavily involved in the company’s key financial decisions, including its merger with Alibaba Group Holding Ltd-backed Kuaidi in 2015, its purchase of the Chinese operations of Uber Technologies Inc and raising funds from investors including Apple. Inc.

In 2021, Didi found itself in the spotlight of China’s cyberspace regulator for its pursuit of a U.S. IPO without gaining approval, sparking an investigation that barred it from adding new users and resulted in the removal of many Didi apps from major app stores.

The company was fined $1.2 billion in July 2022 for data security violations. Didi began to recover from its regulatory challenges in early 2023 when it received approval to relaunch its apps.

(Reporting by Liam Mo, Sarah Wu and Qiaoyi Li; editing by Susan Fenton)

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