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Business

Uber chooses slow lane on the road to IPO

Uber’s chief executive Travis Kalanick has said his ride-hailing company will wait to go public for as long as possible. A hotly-awaited IPO will come at some point in the next decade, he told a conference in Berlin.

Asked when Uber, the massively popular and controversial ride-hailing service that is valued at around $70 billion (61.4 billion euros) would finally go public, Kalanick said he intended to keep both his employees and investors waiting.

"We are going to IPO as late as humanly possible," he told an audience at a business conference in Berlin on Wednesday. "But it'll be one day before my employees and their significant others come to the office with pitchforks and torches."

The timeframe of an initial public offering, however, Kalanick left wide open: "It's going to be somewhere between one year and 10."

Natural competitors

The Uber CEO shared the stage with Daimler's chief executive, Dieter Zetsche. After riding into the auditorium in a bright yellow Trabi, a relic of East Germany's never-glorious car industry, the two talked about their companies' different views for the future.

Uber and Daimler are natural competitors. One wants to reduce the number of cars in the world, the other wants to sell as many as possible.

But on stage, neither of them ruled out working together at some point in the future. Prior to the conference, there had been speculation that Uber had ordered thousands of autonomously driven Mercedes cars, but neither Kalanick nor Zetsche would confirm the rumors.

A 'dominating impact'

The Uber CEO did say, however, that his company had no intention of ever manufacturing its own fleets.

"Cars are not going away any time soon, and companies like Uber are not going to be making them," he said. "It's not for us to buy cars, it's for us to work with the folks who make cars."

Asked why Daimler chose to invest in luxury ride-sharing company Blacklane and not Uber, Zetsche said it was because his company was able to buy itself a "dominating impact," something that would be much more expensive to achieve at Uber.

"When we invest in this field, we do it for strategic reasons," Zetsche said. "We are influencing the activity of that company. To accomplish the same with Uber, we would have to invest 35 billion or something like that."

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