Japan's SoftBank turns in strong Q1, mulls Uber investment

Ann Santiago
August 8, 2017

The tech and telcos conglomerate is interested in making an investment in Uber or its rival Lyft, according to Masayoshi Son, its billionaire founder and chief executive.

"We are interested in discussing with Uber".

"Whether we decide to partner with Uber or Lyft, I don't know what will be the end result".

Son's comments follow weeks of speculation that his firm will take a stake in Uber. Another report from Recode suggested former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick was hoping to engineer a stock sale to win back some control over the company.

Sprint, in which SoftBank has about an 80 percent stake, last week reported a quarterly profit for the first time in three years as a result of cost-cutting efforts.

SoftBank is already a lead financier for several Uber rivals, including China's Didi Chuxing, Ola in India, Grab, the dominant player in Southeast Asia, and Brazil's 99.

The Japanese conglomerate also logged gains from its Yahoo Japan business, but they were offset by sluggish domestic telecom operations and losses at British iPhone chip designer ARM Holdings, which SoftBank bought a year ago. "And we are interested in exploring the idea and would like to discuss it with both companies".

Mr Son also said negotiations between Sprint, its U.S. wireless arm, and "multiple" sector rivals were ongoing, although he refrained from providing further comment beyond reiterating his expectations for a deal to be done "in the near future".

Son said autonomous driving and ride-hailing technologies make it even more critical for SoftBank to push into the industry: "The autonomous auto is definitely coming".

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