Uber set to debut on NYSE, hopes to avoid Lyft’s fate

(Reuters) – Ride services giant Uber Technologies Inc is set to make its long-awaited stock market debut on Friday, after its initial public offering was priced at the lower end of its expected range.

A banner announcing the IPO of Uber Technologies Inc. hangs outside the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., May 10, 2019. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

The IPO was oversubscribed but Uber settled for a lower price of $45 per share, compared with an expected range of $44-$50, to avoid a repeat of rival Lyft Inc’s stock market struggles following a strong debut in March.

Lyft’s stock soared in the first few days of trading, but quickly turned around after investors fretted over the lack of a path to profitability for the money-losing company. The stock closed well below its IPO price on Thursday.

“Lyft’s IPO led us to be a bit more conservative,” said Dara Khosrowshahi on Friday, in an interview with CNBC, a few hours ahead of Uber’s first trade.

Uber, which raised $8.1 billion at a $82.4 billion valuation, is due to begin trading on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol “UBER”, the most anticipated U.S. debut since Facebook Inc seven years ago.

Khosrowshahi said the $45 price was an indication of uncertainty in the economic environment. The IPO comes against the backdrop of a spike in tensions between the United States and China, which renewed fears of a global economic slowdown and hampered global markets.

“It reflects maybe a little bit more investor caution,” D.A. Davidson & Co analyst Tom White said of the Uber IPO. “Investors really want more of a tangible timeline and paths to profitability for these businesses than what people thought investors would require earlier on in the process.”

The company also priced its offering lower in order to accommodate big mutual funds, which unlike hedge funds put in orders for a lower price.

As a private company, Uber has raised more than $15 billion from investors to fuel its growth and expansion into food delivery and freight hauling, with little regard for turning a profit. Uber lost $3.03 billion in 2018 from operations.

As a public company, Uber will have to deal with quarterly earnings reports and demands from shareholders to plot a path to profitability.

Uber’s assent to become the world’s biggest ride-hailing company has come with a string of scandals, which at times threatened the success of an eventual IPO.

The company weathered controversies including the unearthing of a culture of sexism and bullying at Uber to a U.S. Department of Justice federal investigation, which culminated in the resignation of co-founder and Chief Executive Travis Kalanick in 2017.

Uber eventually hired Dara Khosrowshahi, who had led online travel business Expedia Inc, as CEO and he has set about cleaning up the company to get it in shape for an IPO.

Reporting by Aparajita Saxena, Joshua Franklin, and Uday Sampath Kumar; Editing by Lisa Shumaker and Saumyadeb Chakrabarty

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