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SoftBank has successfully acquired 15 percent of Uber in a major victory for both companies

A lot of people are now very rich.

An Uber black car drives down a city street Spencer Platt / Getty

SoftBank and its co-investors have successfully acquired 18 percent of Uber, a major victory for Uber’s new CEO and one that will give billions of dollars in cash to some of the company’s earliest investors and employees.

SoftBank is slated to own 15 percent of Uber’s shares, according to a person with knowledge of the transaction, and SoftBank’s co-investors will own just under 3 percent of the company.

The success of the tender offer will have far-reaching consequences:

  • Uber’s board of directors, which had devolved into a power struggle between Uber’s former CEO, Travis Kalanick, and its largest investor, Benchmark, will now likely be calmer. Benchmark is expected to drop its lawsuit against him. And Uber will enact governance reforms that disempower the two warring factions and increase the size of the board to a massive 17 people, two of whom will come from SoftBank.
  • A lot of people are now very rich. While we have yet to learn the full list of investors who have cashed out for the price of about $33 a share, Thursday’s result is the reward for years of drama at a company that nevertheless saw astronomical growth since its founding in 2009. Uber’s earliest employees who sold are now millionaires, and venture firms could see billions of dollars flow into their bank accounts.
  • Uber now has a powerful strategic partner in SoftBank, the Japanese telecom giant that is investing hundreds of billions of dollars in technology. SoftBank, which is heavily invested in other ride-hailing companies around the globe, could help Uber strike more partnership deals, especially in Asia. SoftBank will occupy two seats on the company’s board and will now be an extremely influential player in decisions at Uber.
  • The deal nevertheless sharply discounts Uber’s value, which last year was estimated at almost $70 billion. SoftBank and its co-investors are acquiring some of the company at a valuation of $48 billion. While a 30 percent discount is not unusual in a transaction like this, it does reflect some concerns about how the company can move forward after a year of upheavel that has not totally abated.

“We look forward to working with the purchasers to close the overall transaction, which we expect to support our technology investments, fuel our growth, and strengthen our corporate governance,” said an Uber spokesperson.

SoftBank and other parties will also give Uber $1.25 billion in new investment as part of the transaction. The investment is expected to be closed in January.

“We have tremendous confidence in Uber’s leadership and employees and are excited to support Uber as it continues to reinvent how people and goods are transported around the world,” said SoftBank’s Rajeev Misra.

The deal’s success was first reported by the Wall Street Journal.

Known sellers include Benchmark and Menlo Ventures. Several other major Uber shareholders, though, have been pressed to sell some of their position in the company by Uber’s new CEO Dara Khosrowshahi.

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