Lyft keeps ahead of Uber in race to IPO

The Weekend Australian - - THE WALL STREET JOURNAL - MAU­REEN FAR­RELL MICAH MAIDENBERG

Lyft has filed con­fi­den­tial pa­per- work for an ini­tial pub­lic of­fer­ing, a key step that keeps the ride-hail­ing firm on pace to hit the pub­lic mar­ket early next year.

Lyft’s planned IPO is one of the most an­tic­i­pated Sil­i­con Val­ley de­buts in re­cent years. The fil­ing, which was ex­pected, would sug­gest Lyft re­mains a step ahead of ri­val Uber Tech­nolo­gies as both work to­wards IPOs next year.

Lyft is aim­ing to de­but in March or April, sources say. By fil­ing with the Se­cu­ri­ties and Ex­change Com­mis­sion now, the com­pany should have enough time to an­swer ques­tions from the agency and keep to its sched­ule.

Lyft, which is much smaller than Uber, is widely ex­pected to beat its ride-hail­ing ri­val to a list­ing, and in do­ing so would af­ford pub­lic in­vestors their first op­por­tu­nity to buy into the fast-grow­ing in­dus­try.

The IPO will be a test of how such in­vestors value the in­dus­try’s play­ers. Uber, Lyft and a host of other ride-hail­ing firms have re­ceived cash from pri­vate in­vestors at high val­u­a­tions, but still need more cap­i­tal as they con­tinue to gen­er­ate big losses.

Af­ter a block­buster year for IPOs, 2019 could present a strong en­core, with big names like Lyft, Uber, Slack Tech­nolo­gies and po­ten­tially Airbnb and Palan­tir Tech­nolo­gies mak­ing de­buts. Re­cent volatil­ity in the stock­mar­ket might prompt some com­pa­nies to go pub­lic sooner than ex­pected to beat a fur­ther down­turn. But if one comes quickly, it could also force com­pa­nies to shelve their plans.

Mean­while, Uber has re­ceived pro­pos­als from bankers that value it as high as $US120 bil­lion ($166bn). Com­pa­nies of­ten con­sider such pro­pos­als be­fore hir­ing IPO un­der­writ­ers.

Uber chief ex­ec­u­tive Dara Khos­row­shahi has said the com­pany would aim to go pub­lic in the se­cond half of 2019. But the IPO could come sooner, as Uber looks to tap a ro­bust mar­ket.

Uber’s pitch to in­vestors will likely seek to dis­tin­guish the com­pany from Lyft by em­pha­sis­ing its global reach and the plat­form na­ture of the busi­ness, sources say. Mr Khos­row­shahi has pointed to the Uber Eats food-de­liv­ery ser­vice as a prime ex­am­ple of how Uber can use its ex­ist­ing net­work to rapidly build up an­cil­lary busi­nesses.

By con­trast, Lyft is ex­pected to point out that its busi­ness, which op­er­ates mostly in the US and Canada, doesn’t have the same gi­ant losses as Uber.

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