SoftBank is said to have approached Uber with a multibillion-dollar offer.
The tech company, however, is already a big investor in Singapore’s GrabTaxi Holdings Pte., India’s Ola and China’s Didi Chuxing Technology Co – three of the largest Asian ride-hailing companies.
Such a merger would give SoftBank a powerful stake in the Asian ride-hailing market. It’s possible the company would want Grab, Uber and Ola to combine their operations. Uber has said it plans to combine its operations with Russian rival Yandex.Taxi, owned by Yandex NV.
According to WSJ, SoftBank’s talks with Uber are preliminary and one-sided. Any deal would likely only be finalised after Uber hires a new chief executive, which could take weeks.
Uber co-founder Travis Kalanick relinquished his role as chief executive last month after a number of scandals relating to sexism and sexual harassment, which led investors to demand he step down.
Bloomberg News also reported SoftBank’s potential interest in buying shares of Uber.
Southeast Asia’s ride-hailing market could grow to US$13.1 billion by 2025 – from US$2.5 billion in 2015 – according to a report last year by Alphabet Inc.’s Google and Singapore state-investment firm Temasek Holdings.