SoftBank buys Uber shares at 30pc discount as investors cash out

An exterior view of the headquarters of Uber in San Francisco on March 1

An exterior view of the headquarters of Uber in San Francisco on March 1

According to the Wall Street Journal, a Japanese investor group is now buying up a large stake of Uber - and getting it at a sharp discount, too.

The price is a discount of about 30% to Uber's most recent valuation of $68bn. It also paves the way for an overhaul of the company after a turbulent year, complete with criminal probes, a lawsuit over trade secrets allegedly stolen from Google's self-driving auto division and internal investigations into its toxic company culture. Earlier reports have indicated that Dragoneer Investment Group and existing Uber backer General Atlantic may be among the interested parties.

As part of the deal, SoftBank is expected to buy shares from employees and investors worth about 15% of the company and will invest an additional $1.25 billion directly into Uber.

Last month, SoftBank revealed that Benchmark Capital and Menlo Ventures have agreed to sell equity as part of the deal.

The Journal did not offer any figure as to the amount Fair might have spent to acquire Uber's leasing unit. Dara Khosrowshahi, the former CEO of Expedia, took Kalanick's place in August after a lengthy search.

The investor group is also buying about $1.25bn worth of new shares at a price that values the firm at nearly $70bn, a significantly higher price that is similar to what Uber shares fetched in its last fundraising round.

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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.

"The stockholders did the smart thing", said Erik Gordon, an entrepreneurship expert at the University of Michigan's Ross School of Business.

To pave the way for the deal, Uber previously agreed to add six new seats to its board, two of which will go to SoftBank.

"We have tremendous confidence in Uber's leadership and employees and are excited to support Uber".

The blockbuster deal offers a cash infusion to Uber and its shareholders ahead of its actual public offering, which is planned for 2019.

Softbank has made a series of high-profile tech investments and shown an appetite for investments in ride-sharing, backing China's Didi Chuxing and Southeast Asian taxi-hailing app Grab, among other companies.

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