It was expected to be a gauntlet laid down in a bid to dethrone Uber as the king of ride-hailing.
But, concerns over how Chinese taxi app Didi handles passenger information has halted the company’s move in to Europe and a select few UK cities.
This follows a spate of aggressive hiring in its London and Manchester offices. Redundancies are now expected in the wake of the news.
The firm had secured its license to operate in the UK and its initial plan was to begin operations as early as the first half of this year.
Didi began offering car-hailing services in Russia last year, marking its first direct foray into Europe, and it’s already an investor in Estonia-based Bolt Technology OU.
The decision comes as Didi faces a crackdown by the Chinese government, with its shares more than halving since its $68bn (£50bn) New York flotation in June.
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The new restrictions could cut Didi’s business in half, according to calculations from Bloomberg Intelligence analysts.
The new regulation “may accelerate an exit from unprofitable international markets where it faces unrelenting competition in ride sharing”, the analysts wrote in a report.
Didi said last month that it would halt registration of new users during a Chinese government review into its cybersecurity practices.
The Cyberspace Administration of China said the move is to prevent data security risks, safeguard national security and protect public interest.
A Didi spokesman said: “We continue to explore additional new markets, liaising with relevant stakeholders in each and being thoughtful about when to introduce our services. As soon as we have news on additional new markets, we look forward to sharing it.
“We have established an international talent hub in the UK, recognising the exceptional quality of people in the market. Beyond that, any personnel matters remain strictly confidential. We seek to fully comply with all laws and regulations in all markets in which we operate.”