SoftBank said to renew talks on taking the group private

REUTERS/Issei Kato

SoftBank Group Corp executives are considering taking the Japanese technology group private as the company seeks a new strategy after disposing of several large assets, the Financial Times reported on Sunday.

The discussions are driven by frustrations over the continuous discount in SoftBank’s equity valuation compared with the value of its individual holdings, which continues even after an asset sale programme tried to close that gap, the FT said, citing people familiar with the matter.

A SoftBank spokeswoman declined to comment on the FT report when contacted by Reuters.

Shares in SoftBank, which is led by billionaire Masayoshi Son, on the Tokyo Stock Exchange are down a little over 10% so far in 2020 and are trading at 1,307.50 yen. This is a steeper fall than Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index and below the 1,500 price at which it sold units in its 2018 initial public offing (IPO).

The IPO nearly two years ago, still Japan’s biggest-ever stock market listing, was widely regarded at the time as finalizing the group’s transition from domestic telecommunications company to a monolithic global tech investor.

Yet since then SoftBank has faced a host of challenges including losses on investments made by its $100 billion Vision Fund, activist pressure from hedge fund Elliott Management and questions regarding significant option purchases during the recent run-up in the U.S. stock market.

The talks on taking SoftBank private have been speeded up due to number of fundamental changes to SoftBank’s business strategy to become a long-term investor in businesses rather than a manager of companies, according to the FT.

SoftBank’s recent investment track record has been checkered, including a particularly large bet on the prospects of shared office provider WeWork, resulting in SoftBank reporting an $18 billion loss at the Vision Fund in May, pushing the conglomerate to a record loss.

SoftBank is nearing a deal to sell British chip designer Arm Holdings, which it bought for $32 billion in 2016, to Nvidia Corp for more than $40 billion, Reuters reported on Saturday.

Reuters

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Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.