Uber clears way for huge Softbank investment

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Uber’s directors approved a huge investment from Japan’s Softbank late Tuesday, and a series of changes to its board.

The firm said the investment, which reports suggest may hit $1.3bn (£980m), could be finalised in the coming weeks.

The board of the ride-sharing firm also endorsed a plan to hold an initial public offering in 2019.

The moves signal fresh unity among the previously divided board as Uber seeks to recover from a series of scandals.

“The board voted unanimously to move forward with the proposed investment by Softbank and with governance changes that would strengthen its independence and ensure equality among all shareholders,” Uber said in a statement late Tuesday.

The size of the investment is expected to be between $1bn (£750m) and $1.25bn (£940m), various reports said citing unnamed sources.

Last month Softbank, a telecoms and technology giant, said it was considering an investment in Uber.

It’s already shown an appetite for ride-sharing, backing China’s Didi Chuxing and Southeast Asian taxi-hailing app Grab.

“SoftBank’s interest is an incredible vote of confidence in Uber’s business and long-term potential, and we look forward to finalizing the investment in the coming weeks,” Uber said.

Board changes

Governance changes approved by the firm’s board hinge on Softbank’s investment taking place.

The reforms, which include changes to voting rights and an expansion of Uber’s board, are seen as drawing power away from former chief executive Travis Kalanick, who remains on the board.

Mr Kalanick resigned in June following pressure from shareholders over sexual harassment claims and other scandals.

In August, he was replaced by Dara Khosrowshahi who faces a number of challenges in improving both the bottom line and company’s tarnished image, as well as battles with regulators.

Among these is the recent loss of Uber’s licence in London.

Earlier this week Mr Khosrowshahi met with London’s transport commissioner, after the regulator deemed the firm “unfit” to run a taxi service in the city and decided not to renew its licence.


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