Lyft IPO could benefit diverse group of investors

Transportation Reuters

In this March 12, 2014 file photo, Katie Baranyuk gets out of a car driven by Dara Jenkins, a driver for the ride-sharing service Lyft, after getting a ride to downtown Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

An initial public offering by Lyft Inc, the second largest U.S. ride services firm, could benefit a broad and diverse group of investors, from Chinese tech giants Alibaba <BABA.N> and Tencent <0700.HK> to a member of the Saudi royal family.

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Lyft Inc is close to hiring an initial public offering (IPO) advisory firm, in the first concrete step by the second biggest U.S. ride service company to become publicly listed, according to people familiar with the matter.

U.S. automaker General Motors Co <GM.N> is one likely beneficiary.

Since it was founded as Zimride in 2007, Lyft has raised more than $2.6 billion from more than 40 venture and corporate investors, the most prominent being Detroit-based GM, which acquired a 9-percent stake in early 2016 for $500 million.

Ford Motor Co <F.N> Executive Chairman Bill Ford, whose company on Wednesday announced a partnership with Lyft, holds a financial stake though his private venture capital firm Fontinalis Partners.

Other high-profile investors include Carl Icahn, Henry Kravis and Saudi Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal, whose Kingdom Holding Co <4280.SE> has stakes in Apple, Citigroup, Walt Disney and PepsiCo.

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Edinburgh-based investment bank Baillie Gifford, a significant shareholder in Tesla Inc <TSLA.O>, also has a stake in Lyft as well as in Indian ride services company Ola.

Alibaba and Tencent are both investors in China's largest ride services startup, Didi Chuxing, which in turn is an investor in Lyft and Ola, as well as in Uber Technologies [UBER.UL], the largest U.S. ride services startup.

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Tencent has invested aggressively in the transportation sector, acquiring a 5-percent stake this year in Tesla for $1.8 billion. Tencent also is a shareholder in two Silicon Valley self-driving startups, Zoox and Nio.

(Reporting by Paul Lienert in Detroit; Editing by Nick Zieminski)

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