SoftBank could still walk away from Uber

Uber said Sunday that it agreed to move forward on a proposed investment from SoftBank Group. But SoftBank Investment Advisors sent a statement to reporters on Monday on behalf of CEO Rajeev Misra, emphasizing that it could still walk away.

“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 other words, the price has not been determined for the tender offer and SoftBank wants to make it clear that it’s still negotiating. The company would potentially buy $9 billion worth of shares from existing shareholders at this price and it would include both common and preferred shares.

SoftBank would also be investing $1 billion directly in Uber as an extension of the last Series G round, at its last private valuation of nearly $70 billion. SoftBank is said to want to own 14 percent of the company.

Update: SoftBank issued a release later on Monday, further clarifying the situation with Uber.

“The Uber board and its shareholders, as well as the SoftBank Group side, have come to a basic agreement on a process for the SoftBank Group to make a future investment in Uber. However, while the SoftBank Group side is considering an investment in Uber, there is no final agreement at this stage.

If conditions on share price and a minimum of shares are not satisfactory for the SoftBank Group side, there is a possibility the SoftBank Group may not make an investment.”

SoftBank’s first Monday statement was in response to Uber’s Sunday statement about moving forward on an agreement with SoftBank. This is what we were provided with from Uber:

“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 and SoftBank have been discussing this potential deal for months. Part of the delay has related to determining former CEO Travis Kalanick’s board role. Sources tell us that investor Benchmark Capital has agreed to drop the lawsuit against Kalanick if the SoftBank deal goes through.

The lawsuit related to his power to appoint three board seats, including Kalanick’s. Ursula Burns and John Thain were recently appointed to the seats, without board consensus. Should one of them give up their spot, Kalanick will now require a board vote to approve the replacement.

Kalanick was pressured to step down in June after concerns were raised about Uber’s company culture. Uber has also had a slew of legal battles, including a patent lawsuit with Waymo, Alphabet’s self-driving car division.

The new funding would help Uber accelerate growth ahead of an IPO, which recently named CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said is expected to happen in 2019.

Alex Wilhelm and I discussed the latest Uber-SoftBank developments in an Equity Shot today. Check it out below.