Even before Uber CEO Travis Kalanick resigned earlier this week at the demands of investors, the value of his ride-hailing company had already taken a hit.
Uber’s stock price fell in May, at least in the eyes of investors, as various scandals and setbacks accumulated at the firm. While Uber stock is not publicly traded–the startup has yet to complete an IPO—new securities filings show that at least one of the company’s major investors marked down the value of its shares last month.
The revelation offers greater insight into why several of Uber’s key backers forced Kalanick’s ouster, despite the enduring support for the CEO from many of the startup’s employees.
Of the more than two dozen funds that publicly disclose their Uber positions, only one so far has released its full portfolio holdings through May: the Principal LargeCap Growth Fund I. Monthly disclosures for the $7.6 billion fund, which is operated by Principal Financial Group (PFG), show that it reduced the fair value of Uber stock by about 5% in May.
Though Principal is a relatively minor shareholder of Uber, the markdown carries greater significance than it seems on the surface. That’s because the decision on the valuation was made by T. Rowe Price, a much larger owner of Uber stock, which directly manages (or “subadvises”) the fund, a spokesperson for Principal told Fortune. The Principal decision implies that T. Rowe Price did a similar markdown on its much bigger stake.
After facing problems including a “#DeleteUber” campaign earlier this year over its response to airport protests of Donald Trump’s immigration ban, sexual harassment allegations, and a lawsuit from Alphabet’s Google (GOOGL) challenging the intellectual property of its self-driving car project, Uber’s record $68 billion valuation has come into question. As the company’s employees and other insiders have sought to unload some of their equity in the company in recent months, Uber’s stock price on the private secondary market has also sunk by as much as 15%, according to CNBC.
T. Rowe Price (TROW), which declined to comment directly on its valuation of Uber, does not disclose its portfolio holdings on a monthly basis, so it’s unclear if its next disclosures will reflect a similar reduction in Uber’s value. But T. Rowe Price’s policy is to value its holdings consistently across all funds and strategies: A spokesperson for the asset manager told Fortune that a “cross-disciplinary” committee “regularly makes judgments” on valuing its private stocks, and “that valuation applies across the board.” (For example, when the Principal fund last marked down its Uber shares, by 6% in 2016, T. Rowe Price marked down its own holdings in the car hailing company by the same amount.)
The new 5% markdown, though small, is noteworthy because it happened at a time when Uber did not raise money or have another significant transaction that would have put a more official value on its stock. T. Rowe Price’s committee, which adjusts valuations of private stocks “as circumstances warrant,” was therefore acting on its own perception of Uber’s fair market value, and likely took into account the startup’s recent struggles, which led to an independent investigation of the company’s culture.
Marking down the shares also means that T. Rowe Price mutual funds that own Uber stock, such as the $50.7 billion T. Rowe Price Growth Stock fund, have taken a paper loss of as much as $5 million on their investments in Uber amid its troubles. After its latest markdown, the Principal fund is carrying some of its $14 million in Uber stock at a value below what it paid for the shares.
Typically, shares of private companies such as Uber seldom fluctuate in value, as opportunities to trade the stock or gain liquidity are rare. But T. Rowe Price’s committee also considers factors including “strategic events impacting the company” as well as its business and financial performance, according to the spokesperson.
Other top Uber shareholders, including Fidelity and The Hartford, are expected to release their May holdings sometime in the next week, at which point it will become clear if the perceived fall in Uber’s value was widespread across the broader investment community.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated with a comment from T. Rowe Price.