SoftBank books $3 billion in first 5 months of partnership with Saudi PIF

Masayoshi Son. (AFP)
Updated 26 October 2017
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SoftBank books $3 billion in first 5 months of partnership with Saudi PIF

RIYADH: Masayoshi Son, the partner of Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, revealed that his Vision Fund has made a return of 22 percent in its first five months of operation and turned in a profit of $3 billion.
Now he is ready to launch similar funds in the near future.
Son, also founder and chief executive of SoftBank of Japan, told the Future Investment Initiative in Riyadh that now was the time to invest in the hi-technology sector because the future prospects of artificial intelligence and robotics were so positive.
“This is just the start for tech valuations. I would not call it a peak at all, it is just the beginning,” he said, contrary to some expert predictions of a “bubble” in technology valuations.
PIF pledged to commit $45 billion to the Vision Fund.
Son said that the fund had made some 15 investments in its first five months.
“People said that $100 billion is too much to put into a single fund, but I say it’s too little. I would like to do more of a similar size.
“The next one will not take five years. Each fund will be roughly the same size, but we will launch them more frequently,” he said.
“People call me an optimist, people say I’m crazy, but I take it as a compliment,” he said.
Son, who almost went bankrupt in the dot com bust of 2000, said that then was the perfect time to invest in hi-technology. “If I had any money, I would have bought then,” he said.
He was speaking after Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman unveiled plans for a $500 billion megacity called Neom in the north west of the country bordering Jordan and Egypt.
“I’m very excited to be part of Neom, and by the role we will be playing in it with the Kingdom,” he added.
He also told how the Crown Prince had first talked to him about technology investment in Tokyo.
“People says that I convinced him to put $45 billion into the fund during a 45 minute conversation, but that is not how it happened. He already had the idea to go for artificial intelligence, robots and super technology, and we found we had a lot in common. That’s how we created a friendship, partnership and a bonding of the mind,” he said.
“It is a great dream. All the dreamers come to a new place, and we will create that at Neom,” Son said.
He mapped out a future for the business world where artificial intelligence and robotics would become the driving commercial forces.
“Ten years ago, the only technology company in the top ten biggest in the world by market capitalization was Microsoft. Today, there are seven tech companies in that list, and two of them are Chinese,” he said.
“Artificial intelligence will redefine every industry. The Internet is only a small part of the big change. AI will revolutionize all sectors,” he added.


Major projects, investments worth over $685bn unveiled on Saudi National Day

A photo taken on July 5, 2018, shows Bader al-Ajmi, 38,(L) owner of "One Way Burger" serving customers from his truck at a main street in the capital Riyadh. (AFP)
Updated 22 September 2018
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Major projects, investments worth over $685bn unveiled on Saudi National Day

  • The private sector’s contribution to the GDP at constant prices doubled to around SR1236.6 million in 2017

JEDDAH: A major economic boost in the form of 10 major projects and investments exceeding SR685 billion ($183 billion) were unveiled as celebrations of the 88th Saudi National Day got under way.
The Council of Saudi Chambers released a report focusing on great economic achievements in 2017.
These projects reflect the Kingdom’s vision under the wise leadership of King Salman and that of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to provide a brighter future through diversifying sources of national income, tackling environmental challenges and increasing investment and prosperity.
The report summarized the most important events and economic developments in the Kingdom over the past year. These include the lifting of the ban on women driving in June, and the establishment of the General Authority for Cyber Security, in addition to the numerous royal decrees providing financial support to Saudis.
It also noted the important decisions related to the Saudi business sector. These include the launch of a private sector incentive program with a value of SR72 billion, the privatization of 10 government sectors and the establishment of the General Authority for Real Estate. The private sector is still showing a strong performance as an efficient partner in the inclusive development process and in the achievement of the Kingdom’s 2030 Vision, the report noted, as it contributes 39 percent to the Saudi gross domestic product (GDP).
The private sector’s contribution to the GDP at constant prices doubled to around SR1236.6 million in 2017. There has been increased contribution to GDP from non-oil private sector streams.
The private sector also witnessed an increase in the number of workers, in its capital, in the number of shares on the Saudi market, in the cumulative number of establishments operating in the Kingdom, and in non-oil exports.
Continued growth of the private sector was attributed by the report to the Saudi government’s support. This support comes through initiatives such as the removal of obstacles to financial development, improvements to the working environment and policies adopted to boost investment.
It also reviewed the private sector’s efforts to support diversification of the economy and lower unemployment rates.
The importance of the measures taken to prioritize the employment of qualified Saudi workers over the employment of expatriates in the private sector were stressed, as well as the sector’s role in providing education and health services.