Uber has always been strict about keeping its financials a secret — to the point that some banks are refusing to work with the company, according to a new report from Bloomberg.
Both JPMorgan Chase and Deustche Bank declined the chance to sell Uber shares to their clients in a private offering because the ride-hailing company wouldn’t provide details about its finances, according to Bloomberg.
However, other banks were happy to take their place. Morgan Stanley and Bank of America both ended up selling Uber shares to their clients even without the basic financial information disclosed, the report said. Morgan Stanley did not respond to request for comment.
Big ideas vs incremental obsession
To explain why basics like profit and loss weren’t included in the 290-page prospectus issued by Morgan Stanley for the private offering, the investment bank took an unusual stance: “The development of insights and big ideas is valuable to the investment process, whereas obsession over incremental ‘information’ flow is not,” the prospectus reportedly said as justification for the lack of data.
In other words, Uber’s big ideas and development is what is valuable to investors — obsessing over financial information, like whether the company is earning a profit or losing money, is not.
That’s a remarkable, and potentially dangerous, argument to make. Understanding basic financial metrics about a business is considered a core part of investing. Many of the dotcom crashes in the early 2000s were the result of investors ignoring a company’s basic financial performance and bidding shares up in the hopes of hitting the jackpot.
When it comes to Uber, expectations are already sky high. With a $66 billion valuation and a major IPO expected, the chance to get in early was too tempting for some people to pass up — even if the details were sparse. Both Bank of America and Morgan Stanley sold the Uber shares earlier this year.
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