Ridesharing

Softbank CEO Says He Can Walk Away From Uber Investment

Masayoshi Son, the head of SoftBank who is in talks to make a big investment in ridesharing company Uber Technologies, warned he could walk away.

Bloomberg, citing Son, reported news that the executive said he could give up on the Uber investment, potentially even pouring money into rival Lyft instead.

“Depending on the price and conditions, it is wholly possible we could shift our investment to the other main company Lyft. It is wholly possible,” Masayoshi Son said at a press conference following SoftBank’s second quarter earnings. “We won’t know until the very end.”

The executive said that greater than half of the stake he wants to buy comes from current investors of the ridesharing company. If coming up with a price tag for the stake is too hard to come by, he could walk away. Other factors that could scuttle the Uber investment include the number of board members, voting rights and the process to purchase the shares.

Bloomberg speculated that Son could decide to invest in both Uber and Lyft, although the executive didn’t say that on Monday (Nov. 6).

The comments on the part of Son come after The Wall Street Journal reported Uber’s effort to complete the SoftBank investment is at risk, thanks to former CEO Travis Kalanick. Citing people familiar with the matter, the WSJ stated that Kalanick is fighting with other Uber board members over the amount of power he has at the ridesharing company and is preventing the investment from closing.

In the past few days, Uber inked an agreement in principle with investors led by SoftBank that would overhaul the board and change other areas of corporate governance. The investment could be worth as much as $10 billion. Kalanick, who stepped down earlier this year, informed board members that in order for the deal to go through, he wants removed a provision that would require the majority of the board to back any director he appoints down the road. He also wants a temporary stay on a lawsuit that Benchmark Capital, a huge investor in the ridesharing company, lodged against him over his two board seats. If a stay can’t happen, Kalanick wants a formal guarantee that the lawsuit will be dropped after the SoftBank investment is completed.

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