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SoftBank sells $2 billion of Uber stake after stock recovery

SoftBank Group Corp.’s Vision Fund sold about $2 billion in Uber Technologies Inc. stock, cashing in after an increase in the ride-hailing giant’s shares.

To deal with the pandemic, Uber Chief Executive Officer Dara Khosrowshahi initiated two rounds of layoffs and sliced pricey initiatives such as electric bikes and flying taxis
To deal with the pandemic, Uber Chief Executive Officer Dara Khosrowshahi initiated two rounds of layoffs and sliced pricey initiatives such as electric bikes and flying taxis (REUTERS)

An affiliate of the investment fund called SB Cayman 2 sold 38 million shares on Jan. 7 at an average price of $53.46, according to a filing with the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission. SoftBank still holds about 184.2 million shares, according to the filing, worth about $10 billion at current prices.

SoftBank founder Masayoshi Son was an aggressive investor in the ride-hailing sector, taking major stakes in Uber, China’s Didi Chuxing, India’s Ola and Southeast Asia’s Grab. Those wagers looked in jeopardy when Uber stumbled after its 2019 initial public offering and the coronavirus pandemic slammed demand.

But Uber shares rallied more than 150% from their low in March of last year, as capital markets surged. Now Didi, the largest investment in SoftBank’s portfolio, is also considering an IPO in the second half of this year, Bloomberg has reported.

To deal with the pandemic, Uber Chief Executive Officer Dara Khosrowshahi initiated two rounds of layoffs and sliced pricey initiatives such as electric bikes and flying taxis. Covid-19 lockdowns continue to depress ride-sharing demand in the company’s largest markets, with sales in the U.S. and Canada down 30% during the third quarter.

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But the food-delivery business has surged during the pandemic, making up for much of that loss. Management has suggested delivery could be as big as or bigger than ride-hailing once the pandemic passes. Uber has pledged to turn a quarterly adjusted profit by the end of this year.

SoftBank shares have also rallied as investments like Uber have recovered and several of its portfolio companies have gone public. Son has sold off assets to fund record buybacks of his own stock.

By Pavel Alpeyev

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