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Business deals

SoftBank, others set to invest in Uber's self-drive unit: report

US ride-hailing giant plans to spin off division valued at up to $10bn

A self-driving Volvo, part of Uber's autonomous driving fleet, moves through an intersection in the U.S. state of Arizona.   © Reuters

PALO ALTO, U.S. -- A consortium that includes SoftBank Group is in talks to invest in Uber Technologies' self-driving vehicle unit, The Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday.

The deal would value the unit at $5 billion to $10 billion.

Uber is believed to be planning to spin off its autonomous driving technology division. In addition to the nearly $100 billion SoftBank Vision Fund, at least one automaker will invest in the new company, according to the Journal. SoftBank already has a stake in Uber.

Both Uber and SoftBank declined to comment.

Uber's foray into autonomous driving slowed after a fatal U.S. crash in March 2018. The company has since sought to partner with other companies. Last August, it received a $500 million investment from Toyota Motor, the two agreeing to jointly develop an autonomous driving vehicle dedicated to ride-sharing.

Uber's full-year revenue for 2018 was $11.3 billion, up 43% from a year earlier. Adjusted EBITDA -- earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization -- showed a loss of $1.8 billion.

Fundraising for a division invested heavily in research and development indicates that Uber is touting its potential value ahead of an initial public offering, which is expected later this year.

In the U.S., companies involved in self-driving technology are rapidly commercializing their developments. Softbank Group and Honda Motor have invested in GM Cruise, the autonomous driving subsidiary of General Motors. Meanwhile, Germany's Volkswagen is reportedly investing in a subsidiary of Ford Motor.

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