STOCKHOLM - Sweden's VOI Technology has raised $160 million in a funding round led by The Raine Group's growth equity vehicle to help it fuel expansion, it said on Wednesday. The company was initially hit by lockdowns as the COVID-19 pandemic broke out, but has over the past months seen demand picking up as people avoid trains and buses to be able to socially distance. VNV Global, Balderton, Creandum and top chiefs and entrepreneurs at Delivery Hero, Klarna, iZettle, Kry and Amazon participated in the fresh round, VOI said in a statement. "In connection to the funding, VOI has secured the industry's first asset-backed debt facility at scale, which will be directed towards scooters and e-bikes in 2021," it said, adding it will invest in technology and growth in its markets. VOI, whose competitors include Tier, Lime and Bird, is on track to reach an annual profit in 2021 and a lower loss this year than the 770 million crowns ($90.8 million) reported in 2019, Chief Financial Officer Mathias Hermansson said. He added that the new funding would help VOI, which operates in over 50 cities in 11 countries, to survive a widely anticipated shake-out among e-scooter firms over the coming few years. "This whole pandemic has moved forward the sector's development several years in only a half year," Hermansson told Reuters in an interview. He said the number of rides on VOI e-scooters had increased by 85% in the September-November period versus a year ago, despite a lower overall mobility in European cities. Hermansson, who said VOI was currently looking at expansion mainly in Europe, declined to comment on the valuation of the company. He said there were no concrete plans for a stock market listing. The new funding takes the Swedish company's total funding to $325 million since 2018 - the year it was founded - and to $190 million over the last four months. REUTERS
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