Japan's SoftBank seals deal for large Uber stake

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Dec 29 2017 07:53 AM

A photo illustration shows the Uber app on a mobile phone, as it is held up for a posed photograph, in London, Britain November 10, 2017. Simon Dawson, Reuters/File Photo

WASHINGTON - Uber and SoftBank announced a deal Thursday allowing the Japanese tech titan to take a large stake in the US ride-sharing giant, making a hefty cut in the valuation of the biggest venture-backed startup.

SoftBank will own 15 percent of Uber's equity following closing by acquiring shares from early investors, cutting the estimated value of Uber by 30 percent of those shares, according to a source familiar with the terms of the deal.

The new investment is part of an effort by Uber to move past a series of scandals and missteps and reform its board structure as it gears up for a 2019 public share offering.

A source familiar with the deal said SoftBank had reached agreements with investors to achieve its target of a 15 percent share.

The two firms did not provide details of the valuation but the source said the investment was based on Uber's worth of $48 billion, down from $71 billion earlier this year.

"We look forward to working with the purchasers to close the overall transaction, which we expect to support our technology investments, fuel our growth, and strengthen our corporate governance," Uber said in an emailed statement.

A separate statement from Rajeev Misra, chief executive of SoftBank Investment Advisers, said, "We are appreciative of the support from Uber's shareholders in the successful tender offer and look forward to closing the overall investment in January."

"We have tremendous confidence in Uber's leadership and employees and are excited to support Uber as it continues to reinvent how people and goods are transported around the world," he added.

The source said SoftBank's total investment in Uber will amount to $7.7 billion including a $1 billion infusion announced earlier this year.

The earlier investment was made at the higher valuation and the share repurchases at a lower value, leaving a "blended" valuation for Uber at $54 billion, according to the source.

The investment is part of the effort by SoftBank to become a major player in the global tech world with a massive $100 billion fund, much of it targeted for Silicon Valley startups.

At Uber, new chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi has vowed to fix the company's work culture and business practices, after taking over earlier this year from ousted founder Travis Kalanick.

Even as Uber has seen unprecedented growth by expanding to dozens of countries, it has been hurt by missteps including allegations of executive misconduct, a toxic work atmosphere and potentially unethical competitive practices.

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