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SoftBank is insisting it could walk away from an Uber deal

“By no means is our investment decided,” says SoftBank.

An Uber sign in the windshield of a car Spencer Platt / Getty

In a likely attempt to increase its negotiating leverage ahead a $10 billion deal, SoftBank on Monday said it could easily jettison the Uber transaction that in principle was struck just one day earlier.

In a rare, pointed statement from the head of SoftBank’s Vision Fund, the Japanese investors sought to downplay its interest in pursuing a deal no matter what. SoftBank has spent enormous sums to buy shares in some of Silicon Valley’s priciest companies, but the new public comment seems to be a message to Uber’s investors: If you charge us too much, we’ll walk.

“After a long and arduous process of several months it looks like Uber and its shareholders have agreed to commence with a tender process and engage with SoftBank,” said SoftBank’s Rajeev Misra in a statement distributed to reporters. “By no means is our investment decided. We are interested in Uber but the final deal will depend on the tender price and a minimum percentage shareholding for SoftBank."

Uber is on the cusp of launching a tender offer during which existing shareholders could sell their shares to a SoftBank-led constortium of investors. But if the price offered by SoftBank per share is too low — and not enough sellers are willing to sell — then the transaction would fail, Uber’s proposed governance reforms would fade away and the troubled company would be back to square one.

Later on Monday, in a second statement, SoftBank described the sides as having come to a “basic agreement” but not a “final agreement.”

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