Big losses at SoftBank Group Corp. apparently haven’t fazed its founder Masayoshi Son. If anything, the 62-year old is speculating about staying at the helm of his conglomerate even longer than expected, into his 70s.
Officially, Son’s sticking to a pledge to hand over the reins of his company later in his 60s. But he did leave the door open to staying longer. Bond investors are hoping before then that Son learns lessons from the $4.6 billion writedown of WeWork that has shaken confidence in his investment acumen.
“When I become 69, there is the possibility I may have the feeling I would like to continue a little longer,” Son told investors on Wednesday, where he admitted some errors of judgment with regard to WeWork. “While in recent months there has been heightened criticism of my management, I am just so enthralled with running companies and have this great will to do so.”
Son was at pains to point out that SoftBank may not always pick winners and that is part of being in venture capital, but he and the Vision Fund still have a strong track record. It’s the scale and speed of the WeWork writedown, though, that have worried investors most, and they are hoping he abides by a promise to avoid similar large one-time investments and focus more on free cash flow.