Uber may spin off its self-driving car unit as it races to go public: report

  • Uber is reportedly considering selling minority stakes in its Advanced Technologies Group, which designs self-driving cars.
  • The move could help Uber to slow its cash burn as it races towards an IPO next year.

Uber is considering selling off stakes in its Advanced Technologies self-driving unit as it races towards a 2019 IPO, the Financial Times reported Wednesday.

Two people familiar with the matter told the paper that Uber has received interest from multiple parties for a transaction that could allow Uber to maintain a majority ownership of the unit while also retaining operational control. As recently as August, CEO Dara Khosrowshahi told Reuters that a spin-off “is not something we’re thinking about at this point.”

Self-driving, the fullest levels of which could still be years away, is a huge liability for all companies, not only Uber. In March, the company suspended its operations after a pedestrian was struck and killed by one of its autonomous vehicles in Arizona. What’s more, the unit burns through $US500 million cash every year, sources tell the FT. Slowing its cash burn is sure to be a major focus ahead of a potential IPO.

Both Uber and Lyft are locked in a de-facto arms race towards 2019 public offerings. The Wall Street Journal on Thursday reported that Uber’s valuation could top $US120 billion next year, more than the top three automakers – Ford, GM, and Fiat Chrysler – combined.

Lyft, meanwhile, has already secured Credit Suisse’s assistance with bookmaking for its public offering, with JPMorgan reportedly leading the effort and Jefferies assisting.

Read the full Financial Times report here.