Uber prices blockbuster IPO conservatively to raise $8.1 billion

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Uber, the most high-profile USA listing since Facebook seven years ago, raised US$8.1 billion, pricing its IPO at US$45 per share, compared with an expected range of US$44-50 per share. Its shares closed at $41.57. While the company claimed in a May 9 SEC filing that it believes "drivers are independent contractors", Uber clearly doesn't believe that too hard, because the filing goes on to reveal that Uber has $132 million squirreled away to pay to 60,000 drivers who are suing to be considered employees.

"We are willing to give quite a bit of rope and leeway on current profitability if you can show how you're going to get there", said Jordan Stuart, a portfolio manager at Federated Kaufmann who often purchases companies' shares during an IPO.

Jitters about an intensifying US trade war with China also contributed. Uber then hired Khosrowshahi to lead the company.

He stressed that Uber is not a fair-weather company and keeps moving forward in tough and easy environments. On Thursday, Axcella Health began trading well below its $20 IPO price and ended its first day at $13.80.

However, it is uncommon for a company with such a high profile to stumble out of the gate. Lyft was down 4 percent, well below its IPO price.

"We were not expecting much of a pop, given the size of the deal" for Uber, Kennedy said. Only about a fifth of IPOs have ended their first day of trading in the red in the last two years, according to Dealogic data.

Uber is yet to make a profit and warned recently it may never do so.

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Smaller Lyft saw its shares drop 6% to $%51.79. Nevertheless, the offering values Uber at $82.4 billion - impressive, no doubt, but less than the $100 billion forecast Uber floated to investors this year and far below the $120 billion that some bankers anticipated last year. Investors have also been somewhat jittery about Uber, after its rival, Lyft, also had a lackluster IPO.

Since its foundation in 2009, the company has lost about $9bn.

Uber's valuation in the IPO is nearly a third less than its investment bankers predicted previous year but still above its most recent valuation of $76 billion in the private fundraising market.

Despite all that, Uber's IPO is the biggest since Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group debuted in 2014.

Uber has said that it has the potential to grow not just in the cab-hailing business, but also as a "superapp" to provide a variety of logistics services, such as grocery and food delivery, organising freight transportation, and even financial services, much like Grab, its Southeast Asian counterpart.

Khosrowshahi was accompanied by a team of Uber officials at the NYSE to celebrate.

The self-inflicted wounds included complaints about rampant internal sexual harassment, accusations that it stole self-driving auto technology, and a cover-up of a computer break-in that stole personal information about its passengers.

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