An Uber-Softbank deal is "very likely" to occur within the next week, according to Arianna Huffington, who spoke at Wall Street Journal's D.Live event in Laguna Beach, CA. She wouldn't disclose the price -- it seems they're still working out the details -- but she did say that the Softbank investment would involve primary investing at the last valuation of the company, as well as secondary investing in additional shares. This means that the Japanese company could end up with at least 14 percent of Uber's shares. "The Softbank investment is so important," said Huffington, adding that Uber has lost quite a lot of money because of the competition (aka Lyft). "Having them on your cap table is very important when they're also investing in so many of our competitors around the world," she added, referring to rivals like Singapore's Grab and China's Didi Chuxing.
SoftBank Vision Fund will claim a 19.6 percent stake in General Motors Cruise Holdings, the automaker's autonomous vehicle unit, following a $2.25 billion investment. General Motors (GM) said the deal will further strengthen its plans to commercialise autonomous vehicle technology "at scale", which is on track beginning 2019. "GM has made significant progress toward realising the dream of completely automated driving to dramatically reduce fatalities, emissions, and congestion," said Michael Ronen, managing partner at SoftBank Investment Advisers. "The GM Cruise approach of a fully integrated hardware and software stack gives it a unique competitive advantage." At the closing of the transaction, Vision Fund will invest the first tranche of $900 million.
The comments by Tadashi Yanai, who leads clothing retailer Uniqlo and serves as an outside director on SoftBank's board, highlighted tensions over SoftBank Chief Executive Masayoshi Son's penchant for big bets in loss-making startups. The Saudi-backed $92 billion SoftBank Vision Fund, started by Mr. Son last year, has invested in some of the world's most valuable startups, including ride-hailing company Uber Technologies Inc. and shared-workplace provider WeWork Cos. SoftBank also controls Sprint Corp. in the U.S. At SoftBank's annual meeting in Tokyo on Wednesday, Mr. Son said the group would unlock new value through loose alliances among its disparate investments, comparing it to self-propagating bacteria. "I want to create a group of top-ranked companies," he said. "This is how we win, how we succeed." Mr. Son said SoftBank's shares were undervalued compared with the value of its holdings in tech companies such as Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. and Yahoo Japan Corp. Likening the share price to a garden vine that twists and turns but ultimately heads upward, he said shareholders could relax.
Palo Alto Networks Inc. PANW 0.53% is naming former SoftBank Group Corp. 9984 -0.04% president and operating chief Nikesh Arora as its next chairman and chief executive, a surprising decision that follows years of rapid growth for the cybersecurity company. Mr. Arora will replace Mark McLaughlin, who joined Palo Alto Networks as CEO in 2011 and took the company public in 2012. He oversaw brisk growth at a time when high-profile cyberattacks pushed corporations to beef up their investments in security software. In an interview, Mr. McLaughlin said that after nearly a decade of running publicly traded companies, he wants to spend more time with his family. He said he discussed the transition with the board for eight months.