Morgan Stanley (MS), which led the group of banks that marketed Uber’s (UBER) initial public offering (IPO) shares, is facing questions from Wall Street after Uber’s IPO slumped, media reports said Tuesday.
Uber shares have risen almost 3% in afternoon trade.
Shares of the ride hailing service fell almost 18% on its second day of trading on Monday, which made investors question why Morgan Stanley and other bankers suggested a $120 billion valuation last year when Uber couldn’t deliver, the reports said.
According to reports, Wall Street questions included whether the syndicate led by the firm set the IPO’s price too aggressively, and whether they steered too much stock to big investors who made hollow pledges to hold it long term.
Many top-tier investors already owned shares of Uber before last week’s IPO, which could possibly have affected the appetite for the stock. Holders included clients of Morgan Stanley’s wealth management division, such as family offices that had opportunities to purchase privately, one person familiar with the matter told Bloomberg News.
Some within Uber’s leadership even started to view the round more as a “follow-on” investment than a fresh public offering, two sources told Bloomberg News.
Meanwhile, Uber Chief Executive Dara Khosrowshahi has not blamed the bank for the company’s “disappointing” stock trading, but told staff members Monday that the decline was due to a “tough” market.
In a separate report from CNBC, sources purportedly said Uber underwriters, led by Morgan Stanley, utilized a tactic called a “naked short” to give additional support for the stock ahead of the IPO.
The underwriters were so worried about company’s initial public offering potentially running into trouble that they deployed a nuclear option ahead of the deal last week, four people with knowledge of the move told CNBC.
According to the report, the move enables underwriters to sell shares in excess of a greenshoe option and then buy them back in the open market to provide even more firepower in the event there is significant selling pressure.
Some of the bankers reportedly attempted to console market participants before the opening of trading by telling them that there would be additional support from the naked short, one of the sources said. The exact size of the naked short could not be determined, but is expected to have been “fairly small,” accordig to two of the other sources.