Uber has priced its initial public offering (IPO) at $45 (£34.50) a share, meaning the ride-hailing company values itself at $82.4bn (£71.1bn).

The offer price is almost a third less than what investment bankers had predicted last year, with Uber settling for a lower valuation amid a series of investor concerns including profitability and the lukewarm reception for rival Lyft’s market debut.

Its targeted range had been between $44 (£33.80) and $50 (£38.40) a share – but nonetheless, the IPO has helped the company to raise an additional $8.1bn (£6.2bn).

Lyft went public six weeks ago – but its share price has tumbled by more than 20% when compared with its IPO price in late March.

Uber’s big test will come later on Friday when its shares begin trading on the New York Stock Exchange, in what has been the most anticipated IPO since Facebook made its market debut seven years ago.

Hundreds, if not thousands, of Uber employees are expected to become millionaires in the IPO.

Although the company’s co-founder Travis Kalanick was ousted as chief executive two years ago, his outstanding stake in the business is set to be worth $5.3bn (£4.1bn).

A windfall for drivers may not be forthcoming. Earlier this week, Uber workers in the UK and US went on strike, with some drivers claiming they struggle to make ends meet despite working long hours.

Uber has faced several controversies in recent years – including claims of rampant sexual harassment within the company and allegations that it stole self-driving car technology.

The company was also accused of covering up a computer break-in that stole personal information about its passengers.

Some Uber drivers have also been accused of assaulting passengers, and one of the company’s self-driving test vehicles struck and killed a pedestrian in Arizona last year while a back-up human driver was behind the wheel.

Uber has been trying to make amends with drivers. On Thursday, the company said it had reached a settlement with tens of thousands who claimed they had been improperly classified as contractors, at a cost of up to $170m (£130m).

More than 5.2 billion trips were completed using Uber last year – delivering food and giving rides to its 91 million passengers.

Despite this, the California-based company has lost about $9bn (£6.9bn) since its inception and has warned it could be years before it makes a profit.

Brian Hamilton, a tech entrepreneur, said: Uber is basically Lyft 2.0. Good model, growing sales. But, yet again, here comes California math once more. It is still losing a ton of money. If you buy, you are buying a bull market, not a company.

Market analysts pointed to one other headwind for Uber’s debut – the fact that share values are currently under pressure because of the escalation in the US-China trade war.

They warned that the risk-off sentiment could extend to the launch, potentially suppressing demand.

Sam Abuelsmaid, principal analyst at Navigant Research, added: For the market to give you value, you’ve either got to have a lot of profits or potential for huge growth.

(c) Sky News 2019: Uber treads cautiously with $82.4bn valuation ahead of market debut