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Uber quarterly loss said to exceed US$800m after China exit

Tuesday, December 20, 2016 - 08:54

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Even as Uber Technologies Inc exited China, the company's financial loss has remained eye-popping.

[SAN FRANCISCO] Even as Uber Technologies Inc exited China, the company's financial loss has remained eye-popping. In the first nine months of this year, the ride-hailing company lost significantly more than US$2.2 billion, according to a person familiar with the matter. In the third quarter, Uber lost more than US$800 million, not including its Chinese operation.

At the same time, the company's revenue has continued to grow even after leaving the world's most populous country. Uber generated about US$3.76 billion in net revenue in the first nine months of 2016 and is on track to exceed US$5.5 billion this year, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the information is private.

Uber, a closely held company based in San Francisco, has stayed mum about its financial performance even as its valuation has soared to US$69 billion, making it more valuable on paper than General Motors Co and Twitter Inc combined.

Uber's bookings-the total combined value of the fares that riders pay-were US$5.4 billion in the third quarter, an increase from US$5 billion in the second quarter and US$3.8 billion in the first, according to the person.

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The slowdown in Uber's bookings growth can at least partially be explained by the company's decision to leave China. Uber said on Aug 1 that it came to an agreement with Didi Chuxing to exit China in exchange for 17.5 per cent of the Chinese company. As part of the deal, Didi invested US$1 billion in Uber. Uber's third-quarter financials don't include the business in China, which were part of the previous quarterly results.

Net revenue - the amount of money Uber generates after it pays its drivers - was US$1.7 billion in the third quarter, growing from US$1.1 billion in the second quarter and US$960 million in the first, according to the person. 

Uber's financials have leaked in dribs and drabs. The third-quarter numbers were reported earlier by the technology news site The Information. Bloomberg previously reported Uber's financial performance in the first half of this year. A spokesman for Uber declined to comment.

The company is said to have lost at least US$2 billion last year and is on track to pile up a loss of at least US$3 billion this year. Those are rough figures that may underestimate how much money Uber is losing and don't include interest, taxes or stock-based compensation.

Here's what we do know: Uber's loss in the first quarter of this year was about US$580 million, according to the person. By the second quarter, the loss significantly exceeded US$800 million, including China. That number is likely far higher.

Even in the US, Uber's home market, the company continues to lose money. After turning a slight profit in the in the first quarter of this year, Uber lost US$100 million in the US in the second quarter. The loss increased in the third quarter, the person said.

Lyft, Uber's largest US competitor, has promised investors that it will keep its losses below US$150 million a quarter.

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