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Arianna Huffington Fuels Uber-Softbank Rumor

Uber and SoftBank are expected to reach an agreement within the next week on the pricing of the deal that will pave the way for SoftBank to acquire as much as one-fifth of the company.

That’s according to Arianna Huffington, an Uber board member, who said Monday in an onstage interview that the massive, thorny deal is “very likely” to come together on that timetable. Uber’s board has been haggling with the Japanese conglomerate over the price at which the ride-hailing company will sell its shares. If the price is too low, the “tender offer” will likely fail and no shares will be sold.

Recode reported earlier tonight that the deal was close to being struck.

Huffington, speaking at the Wall Street Journal’s D.Live conference in Laguna Beach, declined to reveal the price – although it is expected to value Uber at around $50 billion. But some current Uber shareholders are likely to demand a higher share price if they are to sell stock in the company that was valued by private investors in the last financing round at $68 billion.

SoftBank is seeking to acquire at least 14% of the company. The board has kickstarted a sale process that will only succeed if enough sellers are interested in parting with their ownership stake. The sale is also tied to a series of governance reforms meant to restrain several early Uber shareholders, most especially ousted Uber CEO Travis Kalanick.

Huffington, who joined the board last year and has been a staunch defender of Kalanick, jokingly described the tension at the company as “beyond crazy.” She did note she is a major fan of Kalanick’s replacement, former Expedia CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, whom she compared to Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius.

But Huffington also acknowledged that Uber had suffered due to Kalanick’s mistakes, which she said primarily revolved around…

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