SoftBank Vision Fund planning writedown of at least $5b

Photographer: Akio Kon/Bloomberg

SoftBank is planning to take a writedown of at least $5 billion to reflect a plunge in the value of some of its biggest holdings, including WeWork and Uber Technologies Inc., according to people with knowledge of the matter.

The Tokyo-based parent of the $100 billion Vision Fund, which began investing in 2017, is poised to unveil the writedown when SoftBank announces second-quarter earnings on Nov. 6, said the people, who requested anonymity because the matter is private. The writedown is being driven by the Vision Fund’s holdings in ride-hailing giant Uber and WeWork parent We Co., the beleaguered co-working company that SoftBank agreed this week to rescue, they said.

The tepid performance of ride-hailing stocks has influenced the way SoftBank is thinking about valuing its investments in the sector, the people said. The public markets have not been kind to either Lyft Inc. or Softbank-backed Uber, which has tumbled more than 25% since its May initial public offering. That has led the Vision Fund to reassess its recorded valuations of other ride-hailing companies, such as Didi Chuxing and Grab Holdings Inc., said the people. Between June 30 and Sept. 30, the value of SoftBank’s 13% stake in Uber decreased by about $3.5 billion, according to Bloomberg data.

The writedown could be as high as $7 billion, but the amount has not yet been finalized and could still change, one of the people said. Representatives for SoftBank and the Vision Fund declined to comment.

The news comes as SoftBank courts prospective investors for its second Vision Fund, which it has said it hopes will be even bigger than the first. The original Vision Fund — in large part backed by SoftBank, Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund and Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala Investment Co. — had made 83 investments by June 30, according to an August disclosure.

The scale of those bets was big enough to change the way the Silicon Valley startup ecosystem operates. The Vision Fund disclosure showed that the fund had made cumulative investments of $71.4 billion, and had combined unrealized and realized gains from investments and related hedges of $20.2 billion; a year-on-year jump from $30.9 billion in investments and $5.2 billion in cumulative gains.

Softbank Vision Fund’s sprawling portfolio spans numerous industries but has been dominated by transportation and logistics bets, with $28.3 billion of its total investments dedicated to this sector as of June 30. These were held at a fair value of $33 billion at that date. Its $8 billion worth of real estate investments in companies including WeWork, Compass and Opendoor were marked at $9.9 billion as of June 30. The Vision Fund’s exposure to WeWork is less than that of its parent, SoftBank.

Bloomberg

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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.

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

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  • 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. 
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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.