The trouble at SoftBank

After purchasing billions in US stocks this year, SoftBank was revealed as the ‘Nasdaq whale’. Following the firing of three key members, are things still going swimmingly?

It’s been an interesting few months for SoftBank, the Japanese conglomerate that owns stakes in Boston Dynamics and Uber alongside more established entities such as Amazon and Alphabet Inc. It started in September when SoftBank was revealed as the ‘Nasdaq Whale’ after hoovering up billions of dollars worth of big tech stocks – a development which the FT described as an “aggressive move into the options market [that] marks a new chapter for the investment powerhouse”.

Not that SoftBank doesn’t have cash to spare. In 2019, it reported a net income of 1.45 trillion yen – around $13.8 billion – and has total assets worth 31.18 trillion yen – around $296 billion. But not all bets seem to be paying off. The company posted a loss of $1.3 billion in Q2 after losing money on tech stocks, suggesting the ‘new chapter’ for the powerhouse investor wasn’t getting off to quite the start CEO Masayoshi Son had expected.

It’s perhaps this setback that has led to three key figures being cut from their positions this week. Rajeev Misra, head of SoftBank’s $100 billion Vision Fund has gone, as have COO Marcelo Claure, and CSO Katsunori Sago. For his part, Son said the changes were brought about to allow more external directors on the board. However, they are also likely to have come as a surprise to the figures involved; until as recently as this week Misra was said to be searching for a home in Abu Dhabi after SoftBank was reported to be considering a move for its Vision Fund from London to the United Arab Emirates.

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