Japanese investment giant SoftBank has expressed keenness to buy into Uber for a while now. Founder Masayoshi Son was clear that his firm would enter US through either Uber or Lyft, the second-most popular ride-hailing service in that market. And now, SoftBank has nearly sealed a deal. With Uber, of course. Uber board member Arianna Huffington, who was also a part of the CEO search committee at the San Francisco firm, hinted at a recent media interview that SoftBank’s multi-billion-dollar investment in the taxi aggregator was “very likely” to be finalized within a week.
Speaking at an event organized by WSJ, Huffington stated that Uber is still “waiting on what’s going to transpire in terms of the price”. It was earlier reported that SoftBank could put in as much as $12 billion in Uber, which is currently valued at $69 billion. That would give the Japanese firm a sizeable stake in the latter, as well as reduce control of erstwhile investors like Benchmark Capital which has give Uber a tough time in recent months. The deal is likely to include a direct investment by SoftBank as well as a secondary transaction where it would buy out the shares of some existing investors. ALSO READ: Uber to go public in 2-3 years, says new CEO Dara Khosrowshahi
Huffington stressed that SoftBank’s capital is highly valued. Having it “on your cap table is very important when they’re also investing in so many of our competitors around the world,” she said. SoftBank’s ride-sharing portfolio includes India’s Ola, China’s Didi Chuxing, Southeast Asia’s Grab, and Brazil’s 99. It pumped $1.1 billion in Ola earlier this month that will help the Indian startup fuel its international expansion. Despite being dominant in Asian cab-hailing market, SoftBank took long to break into the US, where Uber and Lyft compete for attention. ALSO READ: Ola receives $1.1 billion in funding from SoftBank, Tencent and others
Uber, meanwhile, is contemplating to file for IPO in 2019, and new CEO Dara Khosrowshahi has been entrusted with the responsibility of giving it that direction. Before that he has to get new investors on board, undertake cost-cutting and workplace culture exercises, as well as expand Uber to more geographies. Huffington showered praise on Khosrowshahi and called him “unflappable”. “His goal is to get people to love the company and not just the product,” she stated.