An investment in Uber by Japanese tech conglomerate SoftBank was thought to be imminent. But SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son is taking his time.
At the end of the earnings call (paywall) today for the company’s most recent quarterly financial report, Son stated that the two parties have struggled to agree on terms, which has delayed matters. After describing Uber as a “good company,” Son added, “because of pricing and terms and conditions, whether we make an investment in Uber is not decided yet.”
“Probably most of the investment would be buying out from existing investors, and maybe existing investors don’t want to sell,” he said. “And if we can’t accept the price, maybe we might have a different decision.”
Son concluded by noting that if he can’t agree on a price for which existing investors will sell their shares, SoftBank will consider funding rival Lyft.
Son stated during SoftBank’s previous earnings call that he’d be happy to invest in either one of the leading US-based ride-hailing companies. However, Uber looked to have earned his confidence by autumn. In early October, Uber’s board voted to approve changes in its corporate governance structure that paved the way for SoftBank to buy shares from its earliest backers.
Thirteen days later, Uber board member Arianna Huffington said that an announcement confirming the deal would arrive “within the next week.” Yet more than two weeks after that, the deal has yet to close. The Wall Street Journal reported last week that disagreement between Travis Kalanick and Benchmark Capital, an early backer that has filed a lawsuit against him, has also prevented the deal from closing (paywall).
SoftBank’s proposed investment, if it goes through, would enable Uber’s earliest investors and employees to cash out at a tumultuous time for the ridehailing company. Amid allegations of sexual harassment and an explosive video showing Kalanick shaming an Uber driver, the company has lost market share to Lyft in the US and faces a potential ban in London, its largest European market.