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.


US denies ‘final conclusion’ reached on Khashoggi case

Updated 49 min 39 sec ago
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US denies ‘final conclusion’ reached on Khashoggi case

  • A US newspaper published what it claimed were details of an intelligence report on the case
  • ‘The State Department will continue to seek all relevant facts’

JEDDAH: The US government denied on Saturday it had reached a final conclusion over the killing of Jamal Khashoggi after a US newspaper published what it claimed were details of an intelligence report on the case. 
“Recent reports indicating that the US government has made a final conclusion are inaccurate,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said.
“There remain numerous unanswered questions with respect to the murder of Mr. Khashoggi. The State Department will continue to seek all relevant facts,” she said.
“In the meantime, we will continue to consult Congress, and work with other nations to hold accountable those involved in the killing of Jamal Khashoggi.”

But President Donald Trump told reporters on Saturday that his administration would get “a very full report,” including who was responsible for Khashoggi’s death, on Monday or Tuesday.
The Washington Post published an article citing anonymous sources, who it says are close to the CIA which suggests the Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman ordered the killing — something Saudi Arabia vehemently denies.
The Kingdom’s public prosecutor on Thursday released details of its investigation, saying the decision to kill the journalist was made by the head of a rogue mission during an attempt to repatriate him. The prosecutor is seeking the death penalty for five of the suspects. 
On Saturday, Donald Trump spoke with CIA Director Gina Haspel and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo from Air Force One, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said. 
Trump praised US relations with Saudi Arabia when he was asked about the case. Saudi Arabia is “a truly spectacular ally in terms of jobs and economic development,” the US president said.
Earlier, Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the US Prince Khalid bin Salman, strongly denied the Washington Post story, and said he did not tell Khashoggi to go to Turkey, as the report claimed. 
“I never talked to him by phone and certainly never suggested he go to Turkey for any reason. I ask the US government to release any information regarding this claim,” Prince Khalid said
Khashoggi, a Saudi who lived in the United States, was a columnist for the Post.
He was killed on Oct. 2 at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul after he went to get marriage documents.