Uber clears way for huge Softbank investment

Uber's boardroom warfare continues: Vote would further hobble Travis Kalanick

Uber's boardroom warfare continues: Vote would further hobble Travis Kalanick

The billion dollar deal between Uber and SoftBank will involve expanding the board seats from 11 to 17, including three independent directors voted in by Uber's board and up to three seats for SoftBank.

A face-to-face meeting between the new boss of ride-hailing giant Uber and Transport for London has been hailed as "constructive".

"Today, after welcoming its new directors Ursula Burns and John Thain, the Board voted unanimously to move forward with the proposed investment by SoftBank and with governance changes that would strengthen its independence and ensure equality among all shareholders".

In a separate announcement on Tuesday, Uber said its board approved a series of governance changes that would pave the way for a huge investment from Japanese tech investor SoftBank, which is reportedly expected to be between $1bn and $1.2bn. "However, then Khosrowshahi would have to make sure Uber does change, which might be a tall order". "Anyone would tell you that this is highly unusual".

According to Bloomberg, "Uber Technologies Inc. directors plan to vote Tuesday on board reforms and whether to pursue a major stock deal with SoftBank Group Corp".

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The deal appears to significantly curtail Kalanick's power, a somewhat surprising outcome after the Uber cofounder's surprise move on Friday to unilaterally appoint two handpicked board members. One being expanding the board of directors in the company from 11 now to 17 directors. The case is now in private arbitration.

Goldman Sachs, acting as a financial adviser to Uber's board, has been working for weeks since an initial agreement with SoftBank to amass support for the transaction and governance changes, according to another source. However, after corporate governance proposals were presented last week, he chose to exercise his right to appoint Burns and Thain.

On Aug. 30, media mogul and Uber board member Arianna Huffington posted a happy photo to her Twitter account. Burns and Thain did not participate. Instead, all shares in Uber will have one vote. Kalanick held such shares, giving him outsize power on the board. One of the four independent seats would chair the board. Those directors still must be approved by a majority of the full board or a majority of shareholders. The seat must also be filled by a c-suite executive from a Fortune 100 company.

The last time Uber's board went into such heated deliberations, it was weighing two high-profile candidates to replace Kalanick as CEO: General Electric Co's Jeffrey Immelt or Hewlett Packard Enterprise Co's Meg Whitman.

Fulfilling some earlier rumours, the Uber board voted to strip certain shareholders, including Kalanick and early Uber investor Benchmark, of the enhanced voting rights baked into the two types of company stock - preferred and class B shares, the New York Times reports.

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