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Report on Business Uber ‘on track’ for IPO in 2019, with no plans to sell self-driving tech unit, CEO says

Uber Technologies Inc. is on track to go public next year and has no plans to sell its self-driving car research arm, chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi said on Wednesday.

The ride-hailing company will not sell its Advanced Technologies Group “at this time,” he said in an interview after a media event to unveil changes to improve the safety of drivers and riders. “Ultimately, it is a big asset that we are building and we can monetize that in whatever way we want to. It’s not something we’re thinking about it at this point,” he added.

Uber is “quite optimistic” it can resume testing of self-driving cars later this year after a fatal crash involving an autonomous Uber car in Tempe, Ariz., in March, Mr. Khosrowshahi said. Federal regulators in the United States are investigating the crash.

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Advanced Technologies Group will “absolutely” be a part of Uber after the initial public offering, but it will also partner with other companies that are building self-driving technology, he added. “We want to get the technology ready for prime time as soon as possible,” he said.

Last month, Toyota Motor Corp. said it would invest US$500-million in Uber to jointly develop self-driving cars. “We are incredibly happy to start with Toyota but it’s not going to end there,” he said.

Reuters reported in July that Uber was being probed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for alleged gender discrimination on issues such as pay.

In August, 2017, Uber said it was co-operating with a preliminary investigation led by the U.S. Department of Justice into possible violations of bribery laws. Reuters reported in 2017 the Justice Department had begun a criminal probe into Uber’s use of a software tool that helped its drivers evade local transportation regulators.

Mr. Khosrowshahi said Uber is “in process of working with a number of authorities to resolve these investigations” but he does not think resolving those probes would be a factor in the IPO’s timing.

Uber is preparing to address the “systems” requirements of a publicly traded company, Mr. Khosrowshahi said. “The growth rates for a company our size are unrivalled. Right now, we’re on track for an IPO next year, market conditions permitting.”

Mr. Khosrowshahi, who has led the company for a year, said he was not concerned if rival ride-hailing firm Lyft Inc. goes public first because he expects enough demand for both companies.

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“Historically, there has been plenty of funding for Uber, for Lyft, etc. and we don’t think that’s going to change,” he said. “This is an enormous market we are going after.”

Mr. Khosrowshahi unveiled new efforts to ensure the safety of drivers and passengers by using software to detect unusual events including crashes.

He said Uber would use software to flag atypcal rides and would contact drivers and riders in the event of a possible crash in what it calls “Ride Check.” The feature could be prompted by a long unexpected stop during a trip.

Uber also plans to use sensors on the driver’s phone to analyze acceleration data and other factors to detect probable crashes.

Uber will protect riders’ information by concealing specific pick-up and drop-off addresses in a driver’s trip history, the company added.

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