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Uber hires more IPO underwriters as it prepares to go public: sources

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Ride-hailing startup Uber Technologies Inc has hired a string of investment banks to its syndicate of initial public offering (IPO) underwriters, as it ramps up preparations for a stock market debut, people familiar with the matter said on Tuesday.

[NEW YORK] Ride-hailing startup Uber Technologies Inc has hired a string of investment banks to its syndicate of initial public offering (IPO) underwriters, as it ramps up preparations for a stock market debut, people familiar with the matter said on Tuesday.

Smaller rival Lyft Inc is racing to list in the stock market at the end of March. While Uber will not beat Lyft to an IPO, the preparations are aimed at giving it the flexibility to go public as early as the first half of 2019, the sources said.

Uber has added more than half a dozen investment banks, including Bank of America Corp, Barclays, Citigroup Inc, Allen & Company, Deutsche Bank AG and JMP Securities, to its IPO underwriting lineup, the sources said.

These banks will support Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs Group Inc, which Uber hired late last year to lead its public offering, the sources added. Uber will make additional bank hires in the coming weeks to complete the IPO syndicate, the sources said.

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The sources asked not to be identified because the matter is confidential. Representatives for Bank of America, Barclays, Citigroup and JMP Securities declined to comment. Uber, Allen & Company and Deutsche Bank did not immediately return requests for comment.

Several investment banks held off pitching Lyft for an IPO role in order to be hired by Uber, a more lucrative and high-profile assignment given its size and status. However, JMP Securities managed to get on both Uber and Lyft's IPO syndicates, showing that such overlap is possible, albeit mainly with more junior underwriting roles.

Lending relationships between the companies and the banks have also proved important in winning IPO roles.

Lyft's top-tier of seven underwriters was responsible for around a quarter of capital raised through last year, compared to more than 40 per cent for the six top-tier banks that Uber has hired so far, according to Dealogic.

Like Lyft, Uber filed confidentially for an IPO with the US Securities and Exchange Commission in December. Its bankers have indicated it could be valued at as much as US$120 billion, though some analysts have pegged its value closer to US$100 billion based on the earning figures it discloses.

Lyft could be valued close to US$25 billion in its IPO, according to the sources.

Earlier on Tuesday, Uber agreed to pay US$20 million to settle a lawsuit brought nearly six years ago by drivers who claimed they are employees, not independent contractors. Uber still faces thousands of arbitration claims from drivers who are not covered by the settlement. 

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