Wednesday, 13 December, 2017

Uber set for huge investment from Softbank as it approves IPO plans

FILE- Then Uber CEO and co-founder Travis Kalanic FILE- Then Uber CEO and co-founder Travis Kalanic
Kelvin Reese | 06 October, 2017, 00:38

On Tuesday, Uber's board agreed to remove the special voting power carried by two categories of Uber stock, the class B common shares and the preferred shares.

The board's vote on Tuesday allows the company to move forward with a deal for SoftBank to potentially invest $10 billion into Uber in a deal that would see the financial giant partially buy out some early shareholders.

His right to fill those seats is now being challenged in a lawsuit filed by Benchmark, an early investor that owns 13 percent of Uber. The Japanese firm plans to invest as much as $1.25 billion at Uber's current valuation of almost $70 billion, and then buy up to an additional $10 billion worth of shares at a valuation of around $50 billion, Recode reported Tuesday.

Kalanick, still one of the largest shareholders and a board member, contends that fellow Uber board members are moving too fast on a dramatic restructuring and wants to delay a decision on governance changes, a third person said.

Uber's board will expand from 11 directors, including a pair of Kalanick appointees seated on Monday, to 17 directors, the person and another source said.

Now, Khosrowshahi may not fill one of the most senior openpositions at all: that of Chief Operating Officer, a spokesperson for Uber has told CNBC. But Khosrowshahi was able to bring directors together to push through changes that limit Kalanick's influence.

In a letter to Uber employees from Khosrowshahi, which was described as "disrespectful" by Inc's Justin Bariso, the CEO responded to Kalanick's appointment of Thain and Burns.

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The meeting will consider proposals to strip early investors of super-voting power and secure a multibillion-dollar investment.

All of Uber's shareholders will eventually have one vote per share, regardless of the class of company stock that they own.

Kalanick said in a statement last week he had appointed former Xerox Chief Executive Ursula Burns and former Merrill Lynch Chief Executive John Thain as directors.

The company's new chief executive, Dara Khosrowshahi, flew to the British capital, its biggest European market, to hold talks with the city's transport chief on Tuesday. Kalanick was forced to resign as CEO in June after a series of missteps, including the controversy surrounding the company's use of "Greyball" software, which helped drivers avoid controls and accusations of sexual harassment. "Under Dara's leadership and with strong guidance from the Board, we should expect great things ahead for Uber", Kalanick said.

The special supervoting shares that concentrated power in the hands of Kalanick and other insiders, will be annulled.

Uber and Transport for London, which oversees much of the city's public transport system, issued separate statements after the meeting between Khosrowshahi and Mike Brown, London's transport commissioner.

Uber representatives were also in a San Francisco federal court on Tuesday for a decision in an on-going legal battle over trade secrets with Waymo, the self-driving auto unit of Google's parent company Alphabet.

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