Armed with huge cash pile, SoftBank’s Son wants to stick to tech bets

REUTERS/Issei Kato

SoftBank Group Corp Chief Executive Masayoshi Son said on Tuesday he is sitting on about $80 billion in cash for investment opportunities and share buybacks and vowed to stick with his famously big bets on technology companies.

The move into cash by selling some SoftBank investments is in part due to concern over the continued spread of the coronavirus globally, Son told the DealBook Online Summit hosted by the New York Times.

“It’s the first time in our history to liquidate any of the assets as quickly as possible,” Son, speaking from Tokyo, said of SoftBank‘s recent sales.

This year, Softbank divested more than $21 billion worth of stock in U.S. wireless carrier T-Mobile US Inc and announced the $40-billion sale of chip designer Arm to Nvidia Corp.

Son said he will be “aggressive” if there are opportunities to invest in artificial intelligence companies.

“It is maybe a better price now for investing in unicorns. They need the funding,” said Son, referring to private companies worth at least $1 billion. He added that he also planned on more share buybacks if SoftBank‘s stock falls.

SoftBank has set a $41 billion share buy-back and debt reduction plan. Its stock has more than doubled since its lows in March.

Son declined to comment on reports that SoftBank is thinking about taking itself private.

Son, who made his name for investing early in startups such as China’s Alibaba Group as well as office-sharing firm WeWork, said he will continue to take stakes in public companies he thinks are frontrunners in the AI race, including Apple, Amazon, Google and Facebook.

Reuters

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.

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.