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SoftBank’s Masayoshi Son on the hunt for global tech unicorns

SoftBank Group Corp’s CEO Masayoshi Son said he plans to devote the bulk of his time on doubling down on the firm’s ambitious tech investment strategy.

Softbank
SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son

“I have spent 97 percent of my time on managing the telecoms business and only 3 percent on investing,” Son said, noting that the firm is pushing through with shifting its strategic focus.

SoftBank which owns Japan’s third-largest telecoms operator has emerged in recent years as one of the world’s largest tech investors, acquiring stakes in companies including Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, and UK chipmaker ARM Holdings.

The SoftBank CEO signaled that such dealmaking will become even more of a focus for SoftBank.

Son’s comments fit with a transformation taking place at SoftBank from domestic telecoms powerhouse to “unicorn hunter” – as Son terms it – focusing on late stage startups around the world.

Last month, SoftBank invested $2.25 billion in GM Cruise, the carmaker’s autonomous vehicle unit, complementing its shareholdings in China’s Didi Chuxing, the world’s largest ride-sharing app, as well as rivals Uber, Grab and Ola.

In 2017, SoftBank’s Vision Fund attracted $93 billion in contributions, aided by Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala Investment Company, Apple, Foxconn and others, making it the world’s largest buyout fund.

The Vision Fund also has a strong relationship with Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF), which invested $45 billion in the tech fund.

 

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