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Didi’s Apps Reappear on Mobile Stores in Comeback’s First Step

(Bloomberg) -- Didi Global Inc.’s main apps have returned to the country’s biggest mobile stores, allowing the ride-hailing giant to resume growth after more than a year spent in regulatory limbo.

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Its main ride-hailing app reappeared for download on the Chinese iOS store as well as platforms run by Huawei Technologies Co. and Xiaomi Corp., according to searches run on Friday.

The long-anticipated move suggests the worst is over for a ride-hailing giant that symbolized Beijing’s bruising campaign to rein in its powerful internet industry. It’s one of the clearest signs that Xi Jinping’s administration, keen to jumpstart an economy that’s sagged under years of Covid Zero restrictions, sees a need for the private sector’s support in that broader campaign.

Didi, once feted as the national champion that drove Uber Technologies Inc. out of China, was among the highest-profile companies at the heart of a clampdown on the internet industry that Beijing initiated in 2020, when it abruptly halted Ant Group Co.’s IPO. Regulators cracked down on Didi’s business in 2021 after the company pushed ahead with a $4 billion-plus US initial public offering against Beijing’s wishes.

Relaunching the apps is a prerequisite for Didi to resume business as usual, and to eventually work toward listing its stock in Hong Kong. It also suggests the government is serious about easing up on giants from Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. to Tencent Holdings Ltd., including by approving the most significant crop of blockbuster titles since clamping down on gaming addiction. Didi would have to ensure compliance with Hong Kong exchange requirements, including on driver or car licensing.

“The market expects a listing in HKEx but DIDI will need to introduce a government-trusted shareholder before the company gets support” from regulators, Bernstein analysts wrote this week. “It also needs to increase license compliance rate.”

Read more: Didi Wins Okay to Relaunch Apps as China Tech Crackdown Ebbs

--With assistance from Coco Liu.

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