Ride sharing behemoth Uber confidentially filed paperwork with the Securities and Exchange Commission to go public in a race with its smaller rival Lyft.
The San Francisco-based company may list as soon as the first quarter of next year, valuing it as high as $120 billion, eclipsing the initial public offering of Alibaba, the Wall Street Journal reported. Rival Lyft, which is valued at about $15bn, filed for a listing on Thursday. Its IPO is expected in the first half of next year. Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs are likely to get the lead underwriting roles, according to Reuters.
Uber chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi has previously said he expects the company to go public in 2019. Investors in Uber include Japan's Toyota, Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund, Jeff Bezos, the founder and CEO of Amazon, Fidelity Investments, Softbank, Tencent, Alphabet, Microsoft, BlackRock, and China's DiDi Chuxing.
The company's board of directors includes PIF's Yasir Al Rumayyan, Benchmark Capital general partner Matt Cohler, Huffington Post co-founder Arianna Huffington and Nestle executive chairman Wan Ling Martello.
Last month, Uber said it lost $1.07bn in the third quarter, as the company diversified its business to include bicycles, scooters and its pace of growth slowed. The company’s revenue grew 38 per cent to $2.95bn in the third quarter down from 51 per cent in the previous three months.
The company employs more than 16,000 people, operates in 65 countries carrying out 15 million trips daily.
Uber is said to have been exploring the prospects of a tie-up with Dubai rival Careem, leaning towards an acquisition rather than a merger of the company, to widen its presence in the Middle East. Sources told The National in September the US company was looking at an acquisition of Careem in a deal that might be worth $1.5 billion to $2bn.
Uber’s decision not to merge with Careem is based on its assessment that the company’s presence in the Middle East is large enough and does not warrant an exit – as the company did when it left other markets because of intense competition and high operational costs.
Mr Khosrowshahi has also said the company would not retreat from additional markets apart from Russia, China and South East Asia.
“We are going to be, I believe, the winning player in those markets [India, the Middle East and Africa] and we’re going to control our own destiny,” Mr Khosrowshahi said in May.
Uber exited other countries because it had a smaller market share and was burning a lot of cash.
The company spent nearly $11bn by the start of this year and consolidation meant spending less and eventually being in a position to control prices. In March, Uber and Grab reached a deal, with the South East Asian company acquiring all of its operations in exchange for the US company receiving a 27.5 per cent stake in Grab.