The man in charge of a $100 billion (£750 billion) investment fund said he personally spent six months persuading Uber’s board and shareholders to take $8 billion from his money.
Rajeev Misra, chief executive of SoftBank’s Vision Fund, said he was pitching to buy Uber shares at a time of extreme turmoil for the company.
He said Uber’s board approved the deal, not because of a shortage of capital, but because SoftBank had stakes in every big Uber competitor around the world.
You would think the offer of $8 billion is a compelling enough reason to sign on a new investor. But not for Uber.
Rajeev Misra, the chief executive of SoftBank’s $100 billion Vision Fund, said he personally spent six months convincing Uber’s board to take his money.
SoftBank bought a 15% stake in Uber last year, making it the ride-hailing firm’s biggest individual shareholder and triggering major governance changes.
Misra said a consortium led by SoftBank paid “$7.9 or $8 billion” to buy shares from existing Uber shareholders. SoftBank also invested a further $1.5 billion directly into the company. The deal closed in January this year.
But, Misra said, Uber could easily have turned to its existing investors, such as General Atlantic. At the time, Uber’s board members tied up in a power struggle with then-CEO, Travis Kalanick.
“It’s not that they had a shortage of capital,” Misra told the CogX conference on Monday.
“And [those investors] were there. Why would the Uber board pick the Vision Fund? I worked for six months personally convincing the board, personally convincing the shareholders, who were at bigger odds with each other, the CEO got involved, and there was so much turmoil. Why did they pick us versus another consortium?”
“It wasn’t because we put in $7.9 or $8 billion and there weren’t another consortium which could put up $8 billion, there were many.”
SoftBank, he said, had one big selling point. “It’s because of the ecosystem we bought. We owned every other ridesharing company in the world,” he explained.
SoftBank, through the Vision Fund, has stakes in Uber’s main competition globally, such as Ola in India, Didi Chuxing in China, Grab in Singapore, and 99 in Brazil.
“We could bring the synergies,” said Misra.
He pointed to Japan as an example, where Uber will soon launch a ride-hailing pilot for the first time. Curiously, SoftBank is launching a separate taxi venture in Japan with Didi Chuxing, which may compete directly with Uber.
“Uber couldn’t have gone into Japan without SoftBank’s help with taxi unions,” Misra said. “It’s a win-win.”
He also pointed to Uber’s merger with its Southeast Asian competitor Grab, which took place just three months after SoftBank’s investment closed.
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Source:: Business Insider