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As Uber fights for survival in London it faces a new battle in Paris

A photo illustration shows the Uber app logo displayed on a mobile telephone, as it is held up for a posed photograph in central London. This logo has been updated and is no longer in use. (Reuters)
LONDON: As Uber battles to avoid being booted out of London, the company is fending off fresh competition from a new rival in Paris.
An Estonian ride-hailing service started operations in the French capital on Thursday backed by the financial clout and knowhow of China’s Didi Chuxing.
The standoff between London Mayor Sadiq Khan and Uber is showing some signs of easing after the mayor said talks between Uber and Transport for London (TfL) had been “constructive.”
It follows the shock decision by TfL to refuse to renew the license of the company in the capital, deeming it unfit due to its approach to reporting serious criminal offenses and background checks on drivers.
Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi met with TfL on Tuesday.
Khan, who was not at the meeting, said he hoped that a deal could be done that would see the firm and its fleet of 40,000 drivers remain operating in London.
“What gives me confidence about the TfL decision is the fact that the global chief executive officer for Uber apologized to London,” Khan told LBC Radio.
“I think that bodes well in relation to the humility which hasn’t been shown by Uber London or Uber UK. The tone of his apology was important.”
But while Uber was hopeful of progress in London, the company is facing a new rival in Paris.
The service, called ‘Taxify,’ already claims to have three million customers in 19 countries and has entered the French market with the grand ambition of taking on Uber.
Like Uber, Taxify operates via a smartphone app, allowing users to book rides and pay for them without using cash. But the company says it will take only 15 percent commission from drivers, compared to Uber’s 25 percent, and will price the rides 10 percent below the American giant.
“Paris is essentially dominated by one American company,” said CEO Markus Villig, who founded the Taxify when he was a 19-year-old student.
“We want to prove that European companies can also come in and gain a significant market share and show some competition.”
Villig said Taxify had managed to capture 20 to 30 percent of market share within the first year of operations in some countries and “we hope that we can have something similar in France as well.”
“I’m proud to say that we are the biggest ride sharing platform now in Europe, after Uber, and the biggest European one actually headquartered in Europe,” he said.
Taxify’s Chinese backer, the giant ride-sharing company Didi Chuxing, last year took over Uber China, driving its US competitor out of China.