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Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi: The SoftBank deal hasn’t happened yet but it will

“Making changes in governance is unquestionably good,” Khosrowshahi said at the DealBook conference on Thursday.

Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi
Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi
Drew Angerer / Getty

Uber’s new CEO Dara Khosrowshahi is confident a potential SoftBank investment into the company will happen.

“It hasn’t happened yet but it will,” Khosrowshahi said at the New York Times DealBook conference on Thursday. “Our making changes in governance is unquestionably good. Our bringing SoftBank in as a strategic investor at the right price [is good].”

The company has been in talks with SoftBank for a multi-billion dollar investment that would restructure the way Uber’s board operates. Already, in Khosrowshahi’s two months at the company, the board voted to do away with high voting shares as part of the funding agreement.

“All the parties, at the end, know this is a good direction to go in,” he said.

“I don’t have anything against high voting shares,” he continued. “There’s this reasoning behind high voting shares that isn’t necessary in real life. High voting shares make sense when the [board and executives] are in concert.”

That wasn’t the case at Uber, he said.

The newly minted CEO said the company could go public in the next 18 months.

“We have all the disadvantages of being a public company, as far as [the] spotlight, without any of the advantages of being public,” he said when asked why he was in a rush to take Uber public.

But, while he says the board and even former CEO Travis Kalanick are on board to take the company public, that’s not a condition of SoftBank’s investment in the company. They’re a longterm player, Khosrowshahi insisted.

“If you talk to SoftBank, they don’t have particular interest in going public,” he said.

SoftBank is in extended talks with Uber shareholders about the price at which the existing stock would be bought. While the board has reached a tentative agreement with the Japanese giant for a so-called “tender offer” sale process, the talks remain in dispute and some investors think the massive transaction could still fall apart altogether.

As recently as Monday, SoftBank’s leadership was openly discussing the possiblity of investing in Uber’s main U.S. competitor, Lyft.

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