How the Promise of a $120 Billion Uber I.P.O. Evaporated

The company soon hit other obstacles. President Trump tweeted this month that he wanted to raise tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods, unsettling global stock markets. The day before Uber priced its I.P.O., Lyft reported a $1.14 billion loss for its first quarter, renewing questions about the health of ride-hailing businesses.

Uber’s executives, board and bankers discussed the final pricing of the stock sale on May 9. Several board members pushed for a price at the higher end of the $44- to $50-a-share range, said the people briefed on the situation.

But Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs and others agreed that it needed to be lower, they said. The list of orders from potential investors, known in Wall Street jargon as the “book,” showed that the most desirable investors — the big asset managers who were most likely to hold on to the shares, even in tough times — were interested only in the lower price.

The final price: $45 a share.

That evening, Mr. Khosrowshahi and his management team gathered in Manhattan at Daniel, a Michelin-star restaurant a few blocks east of Central Park, at a “pricing dinner” hosted by Morgan Stanley. The mood was upbeat, according to two people familiar with the evening.

But the next morning, that mood had changed. Uber executives arrived at the New York Stock Exchange, where the company was listing its shares. Before the first trade, monitors that lined the exchange floor displayed how Uber’s stock was likely to fall — flashing up $45, $44, before finally opening at $42. The chatter quieted.

The rest of the day was little better. Uber’s stock never rose close to its $45 offering price. As the so-called stabilization agent, charged with helping trading in Uber stock, Morgan Stanley made some moves to support the shares, according to people with knowledge of the matter. Yet by the end of the day, while the S&P 500 index closed up, Uber’s stock remained down.

On Wednesday, Uber closed at $41.29, more than 8 percent below its offering price.

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