Uber is being probed for possible criminal activity. Source: Reuters

Softbank takes aim at Uber, seeks multibillion-dollar stake

JAPANESE SoftBank Group Corp is looking to take a significant stake in Uber Technologies Inc, according to reports in The Wall Street Journal, after already investing in a number of Asian-based ride hailing startups.

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.

Furthermore, on Monday the Japanese tech firm confirmed, together with Didi, it would lead a US$2 billion fundraising round in Grab.

Masayoshi Son’s Softbank has been funneling money to technology companies since establishing its Tech Vision Fund. Source: AP

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.

SEE ALSO: Grab is SEA’s most valuable startup with US$2b investment from Didi Chuxing, Softbank

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.