Image Credits: SAM YEH/AFP/Getty Images (Image has been modified)
Uber has agreed to move forward with the long-anticipated SoftBank Group investment, a spokesperson confirms to TechCrunch.
We’ve been provided the following statement.
“We’ve entered into an agreement with a consortium led by SoftBank and Dragoneer on a potential investment. We believe this agreement is a strong vote of confidence in Uber’s long-term potential. Upon closing, it will help fuel our investments in technology and our continued expansion at home and abroad, while strengthening our corporate governance.”
Uber has not yet elaborated on plans, but we’ve been told that the potential deal includes a $1 billion investment in the company at the last private valuation of nearly $70 billion. A source with knowledge of the discussions told TechCrunch that the documents label this as an extension of its last Series G round.
The group led by SoftBank and Dragoneer Investment Group is also expected to invest a much larger amount by buying up to $9 billion in Uber shares from employees and other shareholders, likely bringing its total ownership to at least 14% of the company. These shares are expected to be purchased at a lower valuation, that has still not been determined.
Technically, the deal will only be done once enough Uber shareholders opt to sell shares. It is a package deal and the $1 billion investment in Uber is contingent on the tender offer getting finalized.
Update: SoftBank Group sent the following statement to reporters on Monday on behalf of Rajeev Misra, CEO of SoftBank Investment Advisors, to emphasize that the deal hasn’t closed.
“After a long and arduous process of several months it looks like Uber and its shareholders have agreed to commence with a tender process and engage with SoftBank. By no means is our investment decided. We are interested in Uber but the final deal will depend on the tender price and a minimum percentage shareholding for SoftBank.”
In essence, Uber has agreed to move forward with SoftBank’s proposal, but the tender offer price is still being negotiated. SoftBank can back down if the valuation for the tender offer isn’t agreed upon.
It also hasn’t been easy to track down all of Uber’s many shareholders, including venture capitalists and former employees. The company plans to buy newspaper ads to help spread the word that the tender offer is launching soon.
We’re told that thousands of current employees will also be eligible to sell shares.
We reported earlier that the tender offer is slated to launch November 28 and would continue for about 20 business days. This is likely to be the largest secondary transaction in history, with shareholders selling billions of dollars worth of shares.
Apart from gathering a list of shareholders, part of the delay stemmed from determining Kalanick’s role at the company, which is now led by former Expedia CEO, Dara Khosrowshahi.
If the deal gets done, investor Benchmark Capital has agreed to drop its lawsuit against former CEO Travis Kalanick. The lawsuit related to his power to appoint three board seats, including his own.
He recently appointed Ursula Burns and John Thain to those seats. Should one of them give up their spot, Kalanick will now require a board vote to appoint a replacement, as long as the SoftBank deal is completed.
Cooley was the law firm working with Uber on the deal. SoftBank has been working with Morrison Foerster, known as MoFo. The Nasdaq Private Market is processing the proposed tender offer.
This is a pivotal moment for team Uber. Until recently, most employees were prevented from selling shares. This transaction will help them turn paper riches into cash.
The tender offer will provide an opportunity for potentially thousands of employees to sell shares more than a year before Uber’s anticipated 2019 IPO. The likely $1 billion investment in the company will also help the company continue to fuel its growth as it prepares to grow public.
It’s also a turning point for the company, which has had a difficult year. It’s been filled with legal battles, including a patent lawsuit with Alphabet’s self-driving car division, and public outcry about its company culture. Co-founder and CEO Travis Kalanick was pressured to step down in June.
Some have commented that the move is unusual since SoftBank has also invested in Uber competitors including Ola in India. But SoftBank is said to take a different approach from other venture capitalists and is willing to invest in multiple players in the same category.
Japanese-based SoftBank has global ties and could potentially help Uber in its ongoing international expansion.