Uber Technologies has agreed to allow a group of investors led by Japan's Softbank (SFTBY) to invest up to $10 billion in what could be a pivotal fundraising for the the ride-sharing startup as it struggles to maintain licences in key markets and stabilize its leadership following the departure of its founder and CEO earlier this year.
"We've entered into an agreement with a consortium led by SoftBank and Dragoneer on a potential investment," Uber said in a statement shared with various media. "We believe this agreement is a strong vote of confidence in Uber's long-term potential."
The deal will allow Softbank, as well as Dragoneer Investment Group, to pump between $1 billion and $1.5 billion in new cash into Uber and purchase as much as 17% of the company's outstanding shares on the private market. With an estimated value of around $68, billion, the agreement corresponds to about $10 billion in new investment for Uber.
The move also comes just days after new CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said the group was looking to go public by 2019, telling an investment conference in New York last week that while Uber has "all the disadvantages of being a public company with the spotlight being on us" it has "none of the advantages" because of its private status.
Former CEO Travis Kalanick "and the whole board now agree we should just go public. The numbers support it," Khosrowshahi said, adding that Uber is rebuilding the governance of the company as it preps for a stock market listing.
That vow could be the lynchpin in Uber's plans to not only go public, but to complete the fundraising effort it unveiled late Sunday. Multiple media reports have also said the deal would include an agreement with venture capital firm Benchmark to drop its lawsuit against Kalanick if governance reforms are put in place and Softbank's investment closes successfully.
Aside from discussing Uber's cultural revamp, Khosrowshahi -- who took over the company in August -- described the complex relationships between Uber, Alphabet Inc.'s (GOOGL) - Get Report Waymo, Chinese tech giant Didi Chuxing, SoftBank and Lyft as being like a "giant orgy."
The companies European business arrangements have also been equally complex, with its U.K. subsidiary losing a crucial battle last week in its attempt to hold onto its London licence after a U.K. tribunal denied its appeal in case involving workers' rights.
The ride-sharing company was told last year that it had to treat its drivers as paid employees who would be entitled to minimum wage and holiday pay benefits as opposed to individually contracted partners. The company appealed the ruling to the central London Employment Appeal Tribunal but was denied its plea Friday.
The decision casts a major doubt over the fate of its London licence, which was essentially revoked by Transport for London authorities in September amid concerns over the vetting of drivers and the alleged use of software that would evade government monitoring of vehicles.
Uber London filed a formal appeal against the city's decision in Westminster Magistrates' Court in central London and is expected to be heard on December 11, although the ultimate fate of Uber's operating license in the British capital may not be known for several months.
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