Former Fair CEO seeks to buy the SoftBank-backed car leasing service-sources

Oct 23 (Reuters) - Scott Painter, the founder and former chief executive of online car leasing startup Fair, is exploring a bid to acquire the company from SoftBank Group Corp’s Vision Fund and other investors, people familiar with the matter said on Friday.

The effort comes as Fair, which leases vehicles by working with car dealerships, is recovering from a setback in its attempt to expand in ride-sharing. It ended a program that provided weekly rentals for Uber Technologies Inc drivers earlier this year, citing an unexpected increase in insurance premiums.

Painter, who stepped down from Fair last year, is in talks with blank-check acquisition companies, including Cantor Fitzgerald LP’s CF Finance Acquisition Corp II, about making an offer for the startup, the sources said.

The sources cautioned that a deal with a blank-check acquisition company was not guaranteed and was one of several options considered by Fair. They asked not to be identified because the matter is confidential.

SoftBank declined to comment, while Painter, Fair and Cantor Fitzgerald did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Fair allows drivers to lease cars from various auto-dealers without signing long-term or fixed-term contracts. Founded in 2016, the Santa Monica, California-based company raised $385 million in a SoftBank-led funding round in December 2018, valuing the startup at $1.2 billion. It is not clear what valuation Fair would attain in any deal with Painter.

In September 2019, Fair said it had raised $500 million in loans from a group of creditors, including Mizuho Bank and SoftBank. A month later, the company said it would lay off 40% of its staff, as it wrestled with soaring costs. (Reporting by Greg Roumeliotis and Joshua Franklin in New York; Additional reporting by Krystal Hu in New York; Editing by Richard Chang)