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Uber Reportedly Contemplating Spinning Off Self-Driving Automobile Unit, Bringing in Minority Buyers

Uber Reportedly Considering Spinning Off Self-Driving Car Unit, Bringing in Minority Investors

Uber Technologies is considering selling minority stakes in its costly self-driving car unit as the ride-hailing company tries to address rising cost pressures ahead of its initial public offering, the Financial Times reported on Wednesday.

Uber received interest from potential investors and could spin off its Advanced Technologies Group into a separate business unit with its own valuation and equity, FT reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

Uber will retain operational control and majority ownership of the unit, but external partners could share the cost of developing and eventually commercializing self-driving technology, the newspaper said.

Uber did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.

Uber Chief Executive Officer Dara Khosrowshahi said last month there was no plan to sell the self-driving car research arm. The company will not sell its Advanced Technologies Group "at this time," he told Reuters in an interview.

The unit will "absolutely" be a part of Uber after the initial public offering, but it will partner with other companies that are building self-driving technology, Khosrowshahi said.

Uber had suspended its self-driving car business after one of its autonomous SUVs killed a pedestrian in Tempe, Arizona, in March. Uber quickly removed its robot cars from the road, laid off hundreds of test drivers and shuttered operations in Arizona, its autonomous testing hub.

The company is planning to go public next year and could be valued at $120 billion, according to a Wall Street Journal report.

Uber and smaller rival Lyft's initial public offerings, both expected in 2019, will test investor tolerance for money-losing technology unicorns.

Khosrowshahi said in September he was not concerned if Lyft went public first because he expected enough demand for both companies.

The company has been expanding its portfolio and seeking new avenues of growth, including food delivery services, even as it battles intense competition in its core business of ride-hailing.

© Thomson Reuters 2018

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