Uber sets IPO price at low end of target range

An Uber driver at a strike in San Francisco, California, on Wednesday against the company's recent 25 per cent wage cut. Uber's IPO would reward early backers like investor Jeff Bezos and co-founder Travis Kalanick, as well as chief executive Dara Kh
An Uber driver at a strike in San Francisco, California, on Wednesday against the company's recent 25 per cent wage cut. Uber's IPO would reward early backers like investor Jeff Bezos and co-founder Travis Kalanick, as well as chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi.PHOTO: REUTERS

Ride-hailing firm hopes to avoid market slump suffered by Lyft

NEW YORK • Uber Technologies priced its initial public offering (IPO) on Thursday at the low end of its targeted range to value the company at US$82.4 billion (S$112 billion), hoping the conservative approach would let it avoid the market chaos suffered by rival Lyft.

Uber, the most high-profile US listing since Facebook seven years ago, raised US$8.1 billion, pricing its IPO at US$45 per share, compared with an expected range of US$44-US$50 per share.

Uber's IPO came against a backdrop of turbulent financial markets, fuelled by the trade dispute between the United States and China, as well as the plunging share price of Lyft, which is down 23 per cent from its IPO price in late March.

Uber's valuation is almost a third less than the valuation of up to US$120 billion that its investment bankers predicted last year.

The IPO was oversubscribed, but Uber settled for a lower price to avoid a repeat of Lyft's IPO, which priced strongly, then plunged in trade. Uber also wanted to accommodate big mutual funds, which, unlike hedge funds, put in orders for a lower price.

Lyft's stock slumped nearly 11 per cent on Wednesday to a record closing low of US$52.91, well below the US$72 per share IPO price, after it reported a US$1.1 billion quarterly loss.

Some still consider the stock overpriced.

"Uber is basically Lyft 2.0. Good model, growing sales. But, yet again, here comes California maths once more. It is still losing a ton of money," said Mr Brian Hamilton, a tech entrepreneur and founder of data firm Sageworks. "If you buy, you are buying a bull market, not a company," he added.

In meetings with potential investors over the past two weeks, Uber chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi argued that Uber's future was not as a ride-hailing company, but as a wide technology platform shaping logistics and transportation.

The company is hoping this pitch, coupled with any fear of missing out what is expected to be the biggest IPO of this year, will support demand.

The IPO pricing is a balancing act for Uber's team of underwriting banks, led by Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs and Bank of America Merrill Lynch, to negotiate a good price while leaving some upside to ensure the stock trades up on its market debut.

Uber lost US$3.03 billion last year from operations, and reported a net loss attributable to the company for the first quarter of this year of around US$1 billion on revenues of roughly US$3 billion.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 11, 2019, with the headline 'Uber sets IPO price at low end of target range'. Print Edition | Subscribe