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SoftBank agrees to buy large stake in Uber

Eugene Hoshiko / AP

SoftBank Group Corp. pulled off its bid to buy up to 20% of Uber at a steep discount, sources tell the WSJ. SoftBank will likely limit its stake to 15% in the tender offer, valuing the ride-hailing company at $48 billion — a roughly 30% discount from its recent $70 billion valuation.

Why it matters: This deal is vital to Uber because of associated governance changes, and a big bet on transportation for SoftBank, which already has stakes in Uber rivals in other countries. Uber will also get a $1 billion investment from SoftBank at the $70 billion valuation. The company plans to close the overall transaction in early 2018.

Also, per Axios' Dan Primack: The tender offer, which is an open call to buy shares in the company, is a chance for early Uber employees to cash in after not being able to get any liquidity out of the privately-held company. In addition, many early executives — including former CEO Travis Kalanick — have departed in the past year after a series of corporate scandals, so they aren''t betting against themselves with this offer.

What they're saying:

  • An Uber spokesman said in a statement: "We look forward to working with the purchasers to close the overall transaction, which we expect to support our technology investments, fuel our growth, and strengthen our corporate governance."
  • Rajeev Misra, CEO of SoftBank Investment Advisers, said in a statement: "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. We have tremendous confidence in Uber's leadership and employees and are excited to support Uber as it continues to reinvent how people and goods are transported around the world."

This post has been updated to include statements from Uber and SoftBank.