There's a big board battle brewing at Uber

There's a big board battle brewing at Uber

There's a big board battle brewing at Uber

Uber Technologies directors voted in favor of a stock deal with Japan's SoftBank Group and also approved a series of governance changes that would boost the independence of the board and reduce the influence of former chief executive Travis Kalanick, Reuters reports.

Adding a new twist to ongoing drama at Uber, a group of prominent investors in the ride-hailing startup is threatening to sue if a contentious board vote Tuesday doesn't go its way.

Removing special voting power of some shareholders like Kalanick and the VC firm and early Uber investor Benchmark.

The board also voted to increase its size to 17 people.

The talks happened as Uber faces the departure of its London boss and pressure in the USA over former CEO Travis Kalanick's influence over the company after he appointed two new board members with little notice.

Softbank has agreed to make an initial investment of between $1 billion and $1.25 billion in Uber, buying new shares to maintain the company's $69 billion valuation, the person familiar with the board's decision said.

Directors at the San Francisco company are optimistic about passing a share sale of as much as $10 billion, though it's possible the board will need to accept certain compromises to reach consensus, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the deliberations are private. Kalanick held such shares, giving him outsize power on the board.

"I am appointing these seats now in light of a recent Board proposal to dramatically restructure the Board and significantly alter the company's voting rights", Kalanick said in his statement.

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Kalanick would give one of the three board seats he controls to SoftBank.

Under the new plan, shareholders will eventually have one vote per share.

A new provision also makes it more hard for company leadership to fire the new CEO, Dara Khosrowshahi, before the planned IPO-they would need to vote by a two-thirds majority to make such a change.

Kalanick said in a statement last week he had appointed former Xerox Chief Executive Ursula Burns and former Merrill Lynch Chief Executive John Thain as directors. The reforms appear to be created to take power away from former chief executive Travis Kalanick, who resigned in June following pressure from shareholders over sexual harassment claims and other scandals but remains on the board. "Further steps in this process will take place over the coming weeks", a spokesperson said.

Shervin Pishevar, Kalanick's friend and an early Uber investor, put some heat on board members to oppose the reforms in a letter drafted by a law firm. "Under Dara's leadership and with strong guidance from the board, we should expect great things ahead for Uber".

The agreement is a major victory for Uber's new CEO, Dara Khosrowshahi, who is in London after meeting with taxi regulators there to appeal a looming citywide ban.

Uber representatives were also in a San Francisco federal court on Tuesday for a decision in an on-going legal battle over trade secrets with Waymo, the self-driving vehicle unit of Google's parent company Alphabet.

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