Sat, Oct 15, 2016 - Page 10 News List

Softbank eyes tech fund with Saudis

AFP, TOKYO

Japanese mobile carrier Softbank Corp yesterday said it hoped to raise as much as US$100 billion for a new technology investment fund it has set up in partnership with Saudi Arabia.

The company said it would invest about US$25 billion in the Softbank Vision Fund over the next five years, while the Saudi public investment fund would “consider investing in the fund and becoming the lead investment partner.”

The Saudi contribution could reach US$45 billion, Softbank said of the non-binding agreement.

Softbank also said that unidentified “large global investors” might also join the fund, which is designed to invest in promising technology firms.

“The overall potential size of the fund can go up to [US]$100 billion,” it said in statement.

Softbank’s Tokyo-listed shares soared 3.3 percent yesterday.

“Softbank has a proven track record of investment successes. They are looking for another Alibaba [Group Holding Ltd, 阿里巴巴],” Ace Research Institute analyst Hideki Yasuda told Bloomberg News.

Flamboyant Softbank founder Masayoshi Son has led the firm on a string of acquisitions big and small, with many showing themselves to be ahead of their time, including the firm’s early investment in Alibaba.

It reaped huge profits from a partial sale of its stake in Alibaba, while in June it sold Finnish gamemaker Supercell Oy, creator of Clash of Clans, to Chinese Internet giant Tencent Holdings Ltd (騰訊) for US$8.6 billion.

Its US mobile unit Sprint Corp is still unprofitable and some analysts have questioned Softbank’s most recent high-profile deal — a US$32 billion purchases of British iPhone chip designer ARM Holdings Ltd.

There have been growing concerns about its balance sheet with Softbank carrying more than US$100 billion in debt, largely tied to its frenzied string of acquisitions.

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