|SoftBank has successfully acquired a big stake in Uber in a major victory for both companies|
A lot of people are now very rich.
By Theodore Schleifer @teddyschleifer
Dec 28, 2017, 1:38pm EST
Spencer Platt / Getty
SoftBank and its co-investors have successfully acquired at least 13 percent of Uber, a major victory for Uber’s new CEO and one that will give billions of dollars in cash to some of the company’s earliest investors and employees.
The success of the tender offer, confirmed by a person with knowledge of the process, will have far-reaching consequences
-- Uber’s board of directors, which had devolved into a power struggle between Uber’s former CEO, Travis Kalanick, and its largest investor, Benchmark, will now likely be calmer. Benchmark is expected to drop its lawsuit against him. And Uber will enact governance reforms that disempower the two warring factions and increase the size of the board to a massive 17 people.
-- A lot of people are now very rich. While we have yet to learn which investors have cashed out for the price of about $33 a share, Thursday’s result is the reward for years of drama at a company that nevertheless saw astronomical growth since its founding in 2009. Uber’s earliest employees who sold are now millionaires, and venture firms could see billions of dollars flow into their bank accounts.
-- Uber now has a powerful strategic partner in SoftBank, the Japanese telecom giant that is investing hundreds of billions of dollars in technology. SoftBank, which is heavily invested in other ride-hailing companies around the globe, could help Uber strike more partnership deals, especially in Asia. SoftBank will occupy two seats on the company’s board and will now be an extremely influential player in decisions at Uber.
-- The deal nevertheless sharply discounts Uber’s value, which last year was estimated at almost $70 billion. SoftBank and its co-investors are acquiring some of the company at a valuation of $48 billion. While a 30 percent discount is not unusual in a transaction like this, it does reflect some concerns about how the company can move forward after a year of upheavel that has not totally abated.
Investors still have until 12 pm PT to submit an order to sell their positions. The deal’s success was first reported by the Wall Street Journal. SoftBank declined to comment.
Known sellers include Benchmark and Menlo Ventures. Several other major Uber shareholders though have been pressed to sell some of their position in the company by Uber’s new CEO Dara Khosrowshahi.