Prince Alwaleed-backed Lyft, the second-biggest US ride-hailing company, has started the process for an initial public offering in an effort to beat Uber to the public markets, people familiar with the matter said.
Lyft has hired IPO adviser Class V Group to work closely with management as they embark on the process, said people familiar with the discussions who asked not to be identified because the matter is private.
The company plans to begin taking pitches from banks as soon as September, targeting March or April for the listing, the people said.
The timing hasn’t been finalized and could change, the people said.
In 2015, Saudi Arabia's Kingdom Holding, the investment firm of billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, led a group of investors which bought 5.3 percent of Lyft for $247.7 million.
Kingdom, Prince Alwaleed and other parties invested $100 million in the Series F capital increase, with Kingdom taking a $31 million share.
In addition, Kingdom and Prince Alwaleed invested $147.7 million to acquire preferred shares in Lyft in the secondary market. Kingdom's share of this invetment was $73.9 million.
“A variety of factors will determine if and when Lyft goes public, but in the meantime we are focused on building our business, which continues to grow,” Lyft spokeswoman Alexandra LaManna said in a statement. “We don’t comment on rumors or speculation.”
Lyft faces a delicate decision when it comes to scheduling its IPO. Should it go public before Uber, around the same time, or after? Going first would allow Lyft to set expectations for ride-hailing companies, draw attention away from its larger rival and lock up investor money before Uber.
Yet in going first, Lyft risks the possibility that investors hold out for its more valuable rival.
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