Uber float to value firm at $45 a share

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-48222567

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AFP

Uber has been valued at $82bn (£63bn) ahead of its share listing in what is expected to be one of the biggest stock market flotations this year.

The ride-hailing app is asking investors to pay $45 a share, at the lower end of the price range expected.

Uber’s conservative price is an attempt to avoid the fate of rival Lyft whose shares fell by up to a third after its recent listing, said analysts.

Uber is yet to make a profit and warned recently it may never do so.

Since its foundation in 2009, the company has lost about $9bn.

Daniel Ives, an analyst at investment company Wedbush Securities, said the lower-than-expected valuation was Uber’s attempt to deflect scrutiny of its financial performance.

“They know that they are going to have a target on their back in terms of, not just investors, but regulators as well as drivers, so they need to tread carefully here in terms of how they price it.

“Their success is not going to be determined over the coming days or weeks or months, it’s really over the coming years. But the last thing they want is for stock to drop through the IPO price like Lyft has,” he said.

Uber had originally suggested a price range of between $44-$50 for its share price listing, valuing the company at up to $120bn.

Investors are betting on Uber’s growth prospects as it diversifies into several other sectors. As well as the original “ride-hailing” business, Uber is developing driverless cars, and has a food delivery operation, Uber Eats.

Image caption

Union organiser Lydia Hughes joined Uber drivers in their strike in London on Wednesday

Uber’s chief executive, Dara Khosrowshahi, has emphasised that the firm’s future is not as a ride-hailing company, but as a wide technology platform shaping logistics and transportation.

But Brian Hamilton, a tech entrepreneur and founder of data firm Sageworks, said its losses were hard to overlook.

“Uber is basically Lyft 2.0. Good model, growing sales. But, yet again, here comes California math once more. It is still losing a ton of money,” he said.

The firm’s revenue last year surged 42% to $11.3bn, but its adjusted loss – following a tax benefit – still hit $1.8bn. In the first three months of the year, it was a similar story with the firm reporting a loss of around $1bn.

The firm’s flotation comes days after drivers in the US and UK went on strike over pay and working conditions.

Unions are urging Uber to cut the rate of commission it takes, to increase the average fare rate and for better job security.