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

Masayoshi Son. (AFP)
Updated 26 October 2017

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.


G20 Young Entrepreneur’s Alliance Summit discusses role of entrepreneurs in time of crisis

Updated 1 min 44 sec ago

G20 Young Entrepreneur’s Alliance Summit discusses role of entrepreneurs in time of crisis

  • Adopting an ‘entrepreneurial mindset is becoming more vital than ever’

JEDDAH: Thursday’s G20 Young Entrepreneur’s Alliance (YEA) Summit focused heavily on the way in which numerous small businesses and entrepreneurs have successfully pivoted to adapt to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and shown that they can be valuable partners in keeping economies afloat.
The virtual event, which continues Friday, brought together thousands of business leaders and talented young entrepreneurs from across the world.
G20 YEA Saudi chair, Prince Fahad bin Mansour bin Nasser, told the audience, ”Our theme for this year is entrepreneurship as a source of innovation and resilience as we reflect on the challenges facing the world in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is clear that adopting an entrepreneurial mindset is becoming more vital than ever.”
He added: “Here in Saudi Arabia, we are blessed with outstanding infrastructure and the government’s support to help entrepreneurs bring their idea to life.”
According to a recent report commissioned by Monsha’at, 50 percent of working-age Saudi women and 30 percent of men are launching or running businesses that are less than 42 months old.
“As significant contributors to employment, these emerging SMEs are set to drive economic growth in the Kingdom,” Prince Fahad said. “Around 75 percent of these businesses reported having six or more employees. Saudi Arabia’s commitment to assisting SMEs has been enshrined as part of Vision 2030, the Kingdom’s ambitious roadmap.”
He pointed out that Saudi Arabia aims to increase the contribution of SMEs to the national GDP from 20 to 35 percent over the coming decade.
“Saudi Arabia is enabling 100 Saudi companies to compete on the regional and global levels as a means to stimulate the entrepreneurship landscape and provide new opportunities for the sector,” he said.

HIGHLIGHT

The YEA is a group of organizations from across the jurisdiction of the G20 that promote youth entrepreneurship as a driver of economic renewal, job creation, innovation and social change.

The director of the innovation and entrepreneurship sector at the Ministry of Investment, Dr. Mazin Al-Zaidi, said that the most important thing for entrepreneurs is the number, and potential value of, opportunities.
“I believe we in Saudi Arabia have the largest opportunity for any entrepreneur. It is very easy to set up an opportunity in Saudi Arabia. Any foreign entrepreneur can obtain a license in less than three hours, with a 100 percent ownership, for only $500,” Al-Zaidi said.
For his part, Armen Ovanessof, principal director at Accenture Research, shed light on what the future might hold and what other uncertainties may lie ahead, stressing that the world will need “vision, agility and collaborative spirit” to build a better future.
Saudi Venture Capital Company CEO Dr. Nabil Koshak said: “Vision 2030 has highlighted the importance of entrepreneurship in economic and social transformation. We have seen innovative products and service solutions. The government and the local authorities have been working on updating and changing the regulatory environment to be more friendly to entrepreneurs, startups and investors.”
The vice governor of entrepreneurship advancement at the General Authority for Small and Medium Enterprises (Monsha’at), Esam Al-Thukair, explained why he believes that fostering entrepreneurship is important.
“It is important for two main reasons: It is the most job generating industry and it has become a more significant GDP contributor than ever,” he said.