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Uber IPO filing reveals SoftBank as largest shareholder

Public valuation as high as $100bn comes amid slowing sales

The American ride-hailing giant will likely debut on the New York Stock Exchange in May.

PALO ALTO, U.S. -- Ride-hailing company Uber Technologies filed for its initial public offering in the U.S. on Thursday, revealing Japan's SoftBank Group as its largest shareholder.

According to U.S. media reports, the public valuation could go as high as $100 billion, which would make it the biggest American IPO of the year despite Uber's slowing sales.

Uber will likely list on the New York Stock Exchange in May, with its offer price to be set after a promotion tour to potential investors. Reports in U.S. media estimate that Uber's market capitalization will be between $90 billion and $100 billion, exceeding rival Lyft, which went public last month with a market cap of about $26 billion.

In its filing, Uber named SoftBank as the company's largest shareholder with a 16.3% stake.

News of the filing pushed SoftBank shares up 5% on the Tokyo Stock Exchange on Friday. The stock closed at 11,475 yen, the highest level in almost 20 years, back when the internet bubble was still inflated.

SoftBank Group invested $7.7 billion for a 15% stake in Uber in January 2018. It later sold the stake to the SoftBank Vision Fund, CEO Masayoshi Son's Saudi-backed investment arm, for the same price. That stake will double in value if Uber achieves its $100 billion valuation target.

U.S. venture company Benchmark Capital is the second-largest shareholder at 11% followed by Google parent Alphabet at 5.2%.

Uber also revealed that it has a 15.4% stake in Chinese ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing, which acquired Uber's China business in 2016 when the U.S. company left the market.

According to the filing, Uber made a profit of nearly $1 billion in the year through December 2018 on $11.2 billion in sales, which rose 42% from the previous year. The company lost over $4 billion in 2017, although sales increased twofold that year.

But sales are slowing, and the success of the IPO will depend on how investors value the company going forward.

Uber launched its ride-sharing business in 2010, expanding into about 700 cities worldwide. Along with food delivery service UberEats and Uber Freight, an app that matches carriers with shippers, the ride-hailing giant is also developing flying taxis.

Although the company commands about 70% of the U.S. ride-hailing market, it has been plagued by a number of problems, notably sexual harassment claims from former employees that it failed to address. Competition with rival Lyft has also been heating up, with Uber's market dominance showing signs of slipping.

Nikkei staff writer Jada Nagumo in Tokyo contributed to this report.

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