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Uber confidentially files for IPO: sources

The IPO will be a test of public market investor tolerance for Uber’s legal and workplace controversies.

Uber. Picture: Pexels.com

NEW YORK/SAN FRANCISCO - Uber Technologies Inc has filed paperwork for an initial public offering, according to three people with knowledge of the matter, taking a step closer to a key milestone for one of the most closely watched and controversial companies in Silicon Valley.

The ride-hailing company filed the confidential paperwork on Thursday, one of the sources said, in lock-step with its smaller US rival, Lyft Inc, which also announced on Thursday it had filed for an IPO, setting the stage for one of the biggest technology listings ever.

The simultaneous filings extend the protracted battle between Uber and Lyft, which as fierce competitors have often rolled out identical services and matched each other’s prices.

Uber’s valuation in its most recent private financing was $76 billion, and it could be worth $120 billion in an IPO. Its listing next year would be the largest in what is expected to be a string of public debuts by highly valued Silicon Valley companies, including apartment-renting company Airbnb Inc and workplace messaging firm Slack.

The IPO will be a test of public market investor tolerance for Uber’s legal and workplace controversies, which embroiled the company for most of last year, and on Chief Executive Dara Khosrowshahi’s progress in turning around the company.

Khosrowshahi took over just over than a year ago, and has repeatedly stated publicly he would take Uber public in 2019.

Together, Uber and Lyft will test public market investor appetitive for the ride-hailing business, which emerged less than a decade ago and has proven wildly popular, but also unprofitable.

Uber in the third quarter lost $1 billion and is struggling with slowing growth, although its gross bookings, at $12.7 billion, reflect the company’s enormous scale. Its revenue for the quarter was $2.95 billion, a 5 percent boost from the previous quarter. Its booking grew just six percent for the quarter.

Uber faces a deadline to go public by September, and a filing this week suggests the debut will come earlier than that. An investment by SoftBank that closed in January, which gave the Japanese investor a 15 percent stake in Uber, included a provision that requires Uber to file for an IPO by Sept. 30 of next year or the company risks allowing restrictions on shareholder stock transfers to expire.

The Wall Street Journal reported the filing earlier on Friday.

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