Lyft asks banks for pitches to underwrite 2019 IPO

Lyft was valued at US$15.1 billion in a private funding round announced in June. PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW YORK (WASHINGTON POST) - Lyft, the second-largest US ride-hailing company, has asked banks to submit formal pitches to underwrite an initial public offering next year, people familiar with the matter said.

Evaluating IPO bankers and issuing formal underwriter mandates is the next step in what could be the first of several listings by ride-hailing businesses. Lyft is targeting March or April for the offering, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the matter is private. Larger rival Uber Technologies has said it too is aiming to list next year.

San Francisco-based Lyft has been working with IPO adviser Class V Group LLC to help steer decisions involving the listing process, including hiring bankers, people familiar with the matter said in August.

A Lyft representative declined to comment.

Being the first of the two ride-hailing giants to move toward an IPO may help in hiring bankers. Firms that underwrite the deal of one company can't also underwrite its direct competitors because of potential conflicts of interest. If Uber goes first, some firms may become unavailable to Lyft.

In most IPOs, investors considering whether to buy the shares compare the valuation, operations and financials to publicly traded peers. If Lyft does beat its peers to a listing, it will set expectations for other ride-hailing companies seeking to go public. Also, potential Lyft investors won't have the same level of detail to measure its performance against Uber, which is also based in San Francisco.

China's Didi Chuxing, the ride-hailing business backed by SoftBank Group and Apple Inc, and Singapore's Grab both continue to expand in Asia as privately held companies.

Lyft was valued at US$15.1 billion in a private funding round announced in June. The company raised US$600 million in a round led by Fidelity Management & Research Co.

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