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Uber board to proceed with SoftBank deal

The move will diminish the power of co-founder Travis Kalanick

Eric Newcomer | Bloomberg 

Uber will adopt a policy of one share, one vote and has also set a deadline for the closely held company to go public in the next two years	photo: reuters
Uber will adopt a policy of one share, one vote and has also set a deadline for the closely held company to go public in the next two years photo: reuters

will move forward with a major investment deal from and approved a slate of governance reforms that will limit the influence of co-founder and early backers.

The 11-person board voted unanimously Tuesday to approve sweeping changes to the company's power structure, the San Francisco-based company said. The plan would expand the size of the board to 17 seats, people familiar with the matter said. The unusually large board would accommodate two spots for SoftBank representatives and more independent voices. The SoftBank deal isn't yet finalised, but board approval represents a major step.

SoftBank will invest $1 billion to $1.25 billion in Uber at last year's valuation of about $70 billion, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the details are private. The Japanese technology conglomerate will spend billions more, alongside Dragoneer Investment Group and General Atlantic, on stock from shareholders to acquire roughly 14 per cent to 17 per cent of the ride-hailing company. Uber said in an emailed statement that it expects to finalise the SoftBank deal "in the coming weeks."

Uber will also adopt a policy of one share, one vote, the people said. Kalanick, the controversial former chief executive officer, and venture capital firm Benchmark, the largest shareholder, were among those with outsize voting power before the latest changes. The board also set a deadline for the closely held company to go public in the next two years, the people said. If it doesn't, Uber will lift some restrictions on shareholders from selling their stakes. 
The agreement is a major victory for Uber's new CEO, Dara Khosrowshahi, who is in London after meeting with taxi regulators there to appeal a looming citywide ban. Khosrowshahi was taken by surprise on Friday when Kalanick appointed two corporate titans -former Merrill Lynch CEO John Thain and former Xerox CEO Ursula Burns — to the board with little notice. But Khosrowshahi was able to bring directors together to push through changes that limit Kalanick's influence.

First Published: Thu, October 05 2017. 03:18 IST
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