Softbank's Vision Fund is in late stage talks to invest $US1 billion into the ride-hailing giant's self-driving auto unit, according to a person familiar with the matter.
Softbank is part of a consortium in talks for a minority stake that is expected to value the autonomous auto business at between $5bn and $10bn.
Ride-hailing company Uber Technologies Inc is planning to kick off its initial public offering in April, putting it close on the heels of smaller rival Lyft Inc, people familiar with the matter said on Thursday.
This would mean that SoftBank, which already owns 14 percent of Uber by way of venture capitalism over the years, would take on a minority stake along with an unnamed carmaker in Uber's self-driving unit.More news: Neil deGrasse Tyson Cleared in Sexual Misconduct Probe, Will Return to TV
Next month, Uber will issue its required public disclosure, known as an S-1, and launch its investor roadshow, the people said. This week, TechCrunch reported that at one point Uber was spending $20 million per month on its self-driving division, with the ambitious goal of having 75,000 autonomous vehicles on the road by this year.
In addition to the financial liability, the autonomous-car effort has had a tumultuous history.
It built on the effort by acquiring a self-driving truck start-up, which led to a high-profile lawsuit from a sister company to Alphabet Inc's Google, accusing Uber of benefitting from stolen trade secrets.
The nascent technology came under greater scrutiny last year after one of Uber's self-driving cars struck and killed a pedestrian in Arizona last year.More news: Hexo Set to Gain Ontario Retail Stake with Newstrike Acquisition | INN
Dara Khosrowshahi, Uber's CEO, ordered the San Francisco- based company to take the cars off the road for much of past year. Apart from SoftBank, the investor consortium includes an automaker, they added.
For the record, Uber has been exploring a deal with outside investors for its self-driving business since 2018. SoftBank has put $2.25 billion in General Motors Co's self-driving unit Cruise, which has additionally gotten assets from Honda Motor.
The news also comes at the heels of SoftBank's aggressive strategy of heavily investing in AV programs across the industry.More news: Love Island's Muggy Mike Thalassitis found dead aged 26