SoftBank, Toyota in talks to invest $1B in Uber's self-driving unit

SoftBank, Toyota in talks to invest $1B in Uber's self-driving unit: Report

Uber will have the challenge of explaining and selling to investors a business that is more complex and less focused than Lyft's.

A group of investors including SoftBank Group is in talks to invest $1 billion or more into Uber's self-driving auto unit, The Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday. The investment group led by SoftBank, Uber's largest shareholder, would include other backers, and possibly at least one automaker, though their identities couldn't be learned. Uber would maintain majority control of the self-driving arm and would use the investment to fund its research and development.

The timing for Uber's IPO means it will most likely hit public markets soon after Lyft completes its own public offering, which is expected to happen by the end of March, people familiar with the matter said. The self-driving division itself would reportedly be valued at between $5 and $10 billion. Reuters said some analysts expect its market cap to be closer to $100 billion based on the company's recent financials.

Toyota is also in the consortium with Softbank discussing the investment, Reuters reported. A $1 billion infusion could ease worries about how costly it is to develop autonomous cars.

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Waymo said this month that it would sell a key innovation to companies that don't compete with its autonomous cars.

Uber, which a year ago lost about $3.3 billion, is wagering on a progress to self-driving vehicles to dispose of the need to pay drivers. Its fleet of vehicles was also grounded for nine months past year after one of the autonomous cars struck and killed a pedestrian in Arizona. But considering the massive bet it has on Uber, SoftBank will want to do whatever it can to boost the business.

"Toyota constantly reviews and considers various options for investment, but we do not have anything to announce about a further investment in Uber at this time", a Toyota spokeswoman said on Wednesday. SoftBank has put $2.25 billion in General Motors Co's self-driving unit Cruise, which has additionally gotten assets from Honda Motor.

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