Ride-sharing startup Lyft files confidentially for US IPO

Lyft heads for initial public offering

San Francisco-based Lyft, last valued at about $15 billion in a private fundraising round, did not specify the number of shares it was selling or the price range in a confidential filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The firm is thought to be worth about $15bn (£11.75bn), while Uber is valued at about $120bn.

However, sources told Reuters that the IPO would take place in the first half of next year. Lyft lost $254 million in the third quarter of past year.

The firms compete across the USA as ride-hailing platforms, connecting taxi drivers to passengers through their mobile apps.

Uber and Lyft's potential arrival on the U.S. stock markets are two of the most eagerly awaited flotations on Wall Street and will test investor appetite for companies that have a high profile but are making losses.

The ride service was set up in 2012 by entrepreneurs John Zimmer and Logan Green and has raised close to $5 billion from investors. Self-driving technology - which removes the need to pay drivers' fees - is expected to radically reduce the cost of on-demand transport services. "The good news for ride-sharing is that it's a market that has shown to be penetrable", said Jeff Zell, senior research analyst and partner at IPO Boutique in Florida.

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Although Lyft still ranks a distant second, it has been gaining market share during the past two years as Uber faced a backlash following revelations of rampant sexual harassment within its ranks, a cover-up of a major computer break-in, allegations of high-tech thievery and a fatal collision involving one of its robotic cars.

Lyft has pursued a series of partnerships in the contest to be the first to bring autonomous taxis to the mass market.

The firm reportedly earned more than $1bn in revenue in 2017, although it continues to be loss-making.

Uber's backers include the Saudi Arabian state, Japanese fund Softbank, and some of Wall Street's biggest banks, including Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley.

Lyft could go public as early as the first quarter of 2019, based on how quickly the SEC reviews its filing, people familiar with the matter said.

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