In the case of Uber and Lyft, however, many large institutional investors already have access to the companies through participation in private rounds of investment.
SoftBank's Vision Fund and Toyota Motor Corp are part of a consortium of investors in talks to invest $1 billion in Uber's self-driving vehicle unit, Reuters reported on Wednesday. The investment group led by SoftBank, Uber's largest shareholder, would include other backers, and possibly at least one automaker, though their identities couldn't be learned. The deal would value the self-driving business at $5 billion to $10 billion, the people said.
Uber Technologies Inc is planning to file for an initial public offering in April, according to people familiar with the matter cited by Reuters.
Uber, a global logistics and transportation company most recently valued at $US76 billion ($108 billion) in the private market, is seeking a valuation as high as $US120 billion, although some analysts have pegged its value closer to $US100 billion based on selected financial figures it has disclosed. A $1 billion infusion could ease worries about how costly it is to develop autonomous cars.
In addition to Uber, SoftBank has poured money into ride-hailing companies such as Ola in India and Grab in Southeast Asia.
SoftBank is already a major investor in Uber after it acquired about 17.5 percent of the ride-hailing firm's stock a year ago at a significant discount. Furthermore, in 2018, Uber's self-driving auto made headlines for hitting and killing a pedestrian in Arizona. This week, TechCrunch reported that at one point Uber was spending $20 million per month on its self-driving division, with the ambitious goal of having 75,000 autonomous vehicles on the road by this year. SoftBank has invested $2.25 billion in General Motors Co's self-driving unit Cruise, which has also received funds from Honda Motor Co Ltd. Japan's SoftBank is now their largest investor.
A Toyota spokesman told Reuters that it "constantly reviews and considers various options for investment" but did not confirm the talks.