Investment giant Softbank Group Corp yesterday reported an annual net profit of US$45.8 billion, the best ever for a Japanese company, reaping the rewards of tech share rallies to recover from last year’s record loss.
The telecoms turned investment behemoth has poured money into some of Silicon Valley’s biggest names and hottest new ventures from artificial intelligence to biotech through its US$100 billion Vision Fund.
“The technology sector, where the company focuses its investment strategies, has been positively impacted by the accelerated adoption of digital services to address the pandemic,” Softbank said in a statement.
“However, there is no guarantee that the current positive impact will be sustained in light of uncertainties associated with the pandemic,” it said.
Net profit for 2020-2021 was ￥4.99 trillion (US$45.9 billion), Softbank said, exceeding its target and putting it in the ranks of the world’s most profitable companies.
In 2019-2020, Softbank posted a record net loss of ￥961.6 billion, as the start of the COVID-19 pandemic compounded problems caused by its investment in troubled office-sharing start-up WeWork.
However, it quickly returned to profit as the impact of COVID-19 lockdowns worked largely in Softbank’s favor, with rising valuations for firms in its portfolio suited to the era.
South Korean e-commerce giant Coupang Corp, backed by Softbank, in March raised more than US$4 billion in its initial public offering (IPO) — making it the biggest listing in the US so far this year, as people flocked to shop online during lockdowns.
The value of Vision Fund’s stake in US food delivery app DoorDash Inc also rose massively following its IPO in December last year.
Softbank CEO Masayoshi Son, Japan’s richest person according to Forbes, in February hailed the Vision Fund as a “goose that produces golden eggs.”
Having transformed Softbank into an investment giant, Son has battled critics of his commitment to sometimes-troubled start-ups, and brushed aside doubts over a massive asset sale program.
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