SoftBank’s big investment in Uber comes to a close

SoftBank’s long-anticipated investment in Uber is almost done.

Following the close of the tender offer on Thursday, a SoftBank-led group was able to secure interest for its desired 14% stake in the company.  The news was first reported by The Wall Street Journal.

The shares purchased from existing shareholders will value the company at approximately $48 billion, a significant discount to the roughly $69 billion that company was valued at in its last private round. As part of the deal, the group will also be investing $1.25 billion directly in Uber at the $69 billion value.

Shareholders including employees and early investors like Benchmark Capital and Menlo Ventures are expected to sell shares in the deal, turning paper money into cash. Uber has largely restricted the selling of shares until this point.

Updated, with the following statements:

“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,” said an Uber spokesperson.

SoftBank Investment Advisers CEO Rajeev Misra provided the following statement.

“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.”

Once the transaction is completed, Benchmark will drop its lawsuit against former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick.  The suit related to his power to appoint board seats.

Kalanick stepped down in June, following mounting public pressure. Uber had been accused of fostering a company culture that condoned sexism and harassment. Uber had also been facing significant legal battles, including a patent lawsuit with Waymo, the self-driving car division of Google parent, Alphabet.

The direct investment in Uber will help the company steer toward its planned 2019 IPO. Former Expedia CEO Dara Khosrowshahi took the helm in August, helping the disgraced but fast-growing business gear up towards a public offering.

It seems that for many shareholders, 2019 is too far away, so they opted to sell shares now. There are also no guarantees that the public markets will value the company higher than the $48 billion SoftBank is offering.

SoftBank has emerged as a leader in late-stage investing. The Japanese investment firm has recently armed its coffers with nearly $100 billion for its Vision Fund. It’s also invested in global Uber competitors, like Grab.

SoftBank is not the only investor looking to pick up shares in the tender offer. It has been leading a group alongside Dragoneer Investment Group. As we reported last month, other investors looking to buy Uber shares have included Sequoia Capital, Tencent and TPG.