22 October 2018
Locking in investment from SoftBank, which is led by Masayoshi Son (L), has been a top priority for Uber's new CEO Dara Khosrowshahi. Photos: Bloomberg
Locking in investment from SoftBank, which is led by Masayoshi Son (L), has been a top priority for Uber's new CEO Dara Khosrowshahi. Photos: Bloomberg

SoftBank said to seek Uber shares at 30% discount

A SoftBank-led consortium is said to be seeking to buy Uber Technologies shares at a price that values the ride-hailing services firm at US$48 billion, a 30 percent discount to the company’s most recent valuation of US$68.5 billion.

According to Reuters, Softbank and its investor partners, including Dragoneer Investment and General Atlantic, are offering to take a stake of at least 14 percent in Uber, including nearly US$9 billion of shares from existing shareholders.

The tender offer was expected to be launched on Tuesday, and investors have 20 business days to respond, the report said, citing people familiar with the matter.

The investment, if it goes through, would trigger a string of governance changes at the ride-hailing giant that would limit some early shareholders’ voting power, expand the board from 11 to 17 directors and cut the influence of former CEO Travis Kalanick.

The SoftBank-led investor group will acquire two of the new board seats, with the remaining four going to independent directors, the report said.

SoftBank’s offer is close to what Uber was worth in 2015, when shares were priced a little less than US$40 apiece for a US$51 billion valuation, according to the report.

News of the discounted price bid was first reported by Bloomberg.

If there are not enough interested sellers, SoftBank can still walk away from the deal.

The group, meanwhile, is expected to make a separate US$1 billion investment in Uber at the US$68.5 billion valuation.

The stake purchase, along with the US$1 billion investment, would make SoftBank one of Uber’s biggest shareholders.

The Japanese conglomerate already holds stakes in several other ride-hailing companies, including China’s Didi Chuxing, India’s Ola Cabs and Southeast Asia’s Grab.

Even at the discounted price, Uber is still the world’s second-highest valued private-venture-backed company, after Didi Chuxing.

While SoftBank’s offer is 30 percent less than Uber’s valuation at its most-recent fundraising round, it is a chance for early investors to lock in substantial profits and for employees to cash in shares.

Uber employees with at least 10,000 of vested share will be eligible to sell. Other Uber shareholders, including venture capitalists, angel investors and former employees could also be eligible.

Locking in the investment from SoftBank has been a top priority for Uber’s new CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, who came at the end of a year of scandals and change for Uber.

Last week, the company admitted that executives covered up a major hack in 2016 that exposed personal data of 57 million customers and drivers.

Khosrowshahi has said he expects to take Uber public by 2019.

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