SoftBank, which is planning to make multi billion-dollar investment in Uber, has increased the difficulty for Travis Kalanick’s as the Japanese firm will block any attempts to elevate the former CEO back to the company’s top ranks, according to a Bloomberg report.
This comes after venture capital firm Benchmark sought a guarantee from SoftBank that it would reject reappointing Kalanick as CEO and block his appointment as chairman of the board or head of one of its subcommittees. Benchmark, which is one of Uber’s largest shareholders, led the ouster of Kalanick in June.
In August, Benchmark had also filed a lawsuit against Kalanick accusing the former chief executive of fraud, breach of contract and breach of fiduciary duty.
SoftBank and investment firms General Atlantic and Dragoneer Investment Group are in active talks with Uber; and can invest at least $1 billion in Uber at a $69 billion valuation, while buying as much as $9 billion in shares from existing investors.
The SoftBank-led investment in Uber could be the largest private stock sale in history. The Japanese firm has also considered asking for two board seats as part of the deal.
According to the report, Benchmark was approached by SoftBank in June about a potential investment and met with founder Masayoshi Son in July in the Bay Area. But the VC firm stalled the process once it began tangling with Kalanick.
Kalanick has told acquaintances that he has no intention of trying to return as CEO, but he may someday seek a position as a strategic or operational partner to the current CEO Dara Khosrowshahi.
Khosrowshahi has privately indicated support for a deal with SoftBank at the right price. His other priorities include allowing employees to sell stock more easily at a fair price, resolving the fight between Kalanick and Benchmark.
Benchmark, which holds stock with outsize voting power, also supports a one-shareholder-one-vote policy. The VC firm and other investors worried that SoftBank could help Kalanick retake the reins through the purchase of super-voting shares.