Saudi-backed SoftBank Vision’s war chest approaches $100bn

SoftBank Group Chairman and CEO Masayoshi Son gestures as he answers questions during a press briefing to announce the company’s financial results in Tokyo. (AFP)
Updated 08 February 2018

Saudi-backed SoftBank Vision’s war chest approaches $100bn

LONDON: A buying spree by Japan’s SoftBank Vision Fund (SVF), which counts the Kingdom’s Public Investment Fund as its top international backer, was highlighted on Wednesday when the parent company disclosed a 20 percent rise in net profit in the nine months to the end of last December at 1.01trillion yen ($925.2 million).
SVF listed 19 companies where it has holdings, many acquired since the first close of the fund in May 2017 when it unveiled a $93 billion war chest, which has since grown to more than $97.7 billion.
SVF has stakes in Arm Holdings, the UK chip maker, Slack Technologies, the business chat tool, Brain Corporation, the AI-based autonomous driving system developer, and Mapbox, the US geographical information platform, among others.
Affiliated fund, Delta, has only one asset, the Chinese ride-sharing company, DiDi.
Reuters reported on Wednesday that DiDi, which bought out Uber’s China business in 2016, was setting up an electric car sharing service with 12 automakers, including the local partners of Ford and the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance.
Didi was quoted as saying it would build an “open new energy car-sharing system” that would allow members to use vehicles on demand through an app-based system.
SVF has invested $27.5 billion during the accounting period in tech companies that also include visual computing company NVIDIA, and co-working company WeWork. Since the end of the reporting period, SVF has acquired a 15 percent stake in Uber for $7.7 billion, and its swelling portfolio has grown to 26 companies.
Parent group SoftBank, which has a controlling stake in US mobile carrier Sprint, confirmed on Wednesday that it had launched preparations for a Tokyo listing of its domestic mobile phone business.
Headed by Japanese billionaire Masayoshi Son, SoftBank repeated that it is interested in buying companies in fields such as robotics, artificial intelligence and consumer technologies as automation gathers pace.
The relationship with the Kingdom will work both ways with Bloomberg reporting in 2017 that SoftBank planned to invest $25 billion in Saudi Arabia over the next three to four years.
At October’s Future Investment Initiative held in Riyadh, PIF and the Vision Fund signed a Memorandum of Understanding to create a ‘Solar Energy Plan 2030’ for the Kingdom.
The new initiative included an agreement to develop Saudi Arabia’s first 3-gigawatt solar generation capacity in 2018. This will take place through the Saudi Electricity Company, which is 74.3 percent owned by PIF.
Additionally, both parties will explore the possibility of the Vision Fund taking a significant minority equity stake in SEC, and work to identify opportunities to establish solar and battery manufacturing ecosystems in the Kingdom, which in turn will support sector diversification and job creation, it was said at FII.
“Rapid technology advancement and scale have transformed solar power into an attractive source of electricity,” said Son.
Son told a financial media conference in Japan on Wednesday, following publication of the latest financial data that group companies such as Arm and Yahoo! Japan were doing well, and he planned to invest in more companies that he called “unicorns.”
One such company he mentioned was Wag, a US venture connecting dog owners with dog walkers online, which Son called the “dog version of Uber.”


Emirates trims Boeing shopping list amid 777X delays

Updated 20 November 2019

Emirates trims Boeing shopping list amid 777X delays

  • The Middle East’s largest airline in 2017 signed an initial agreement to buy 40 Boeing 787-10s in a deal worth $15.1 billion
  • But Emirates’s purchases overhaul reduces the order to 30 planes

DUBAI: Emirates Airline on Wednesday slimmed down its purchasing plans with Boeing amid delays in delivering an order of 156 of the new long-range 777X aircraft, substituting instead 30 of its 787-9 Dreamliners.
The Middle East’s largest airline in 2017 signed an initial agreement to buy 40 Boeing 787-10s in a deal worth $15.1 billion, but the overhaul reduces that to 30.
At the same time, Emirates is cutting its 156-strong order of the larger 777X to 126 planes.
The restructuring means that the carrier now has just 156 aircraft ordered from Boeing, compared to 196 previously in both firm orders and initial agreements, an airline spokeswoman confirmed to AFP.
“Emirates reduced its 777X order of 156 to 126 and substituted them with the Dreamliners,” Emirates president Tim Clark told a news conference at the Dubai Airshow.
Boeing said the airline will update its order book “by exercising substitution rights and converting 30 777 airplanes into 30 787-9s.”
Emirates said in a statement that for the 777X, it “will enter into discussions with Boeing over the next few weeks on the status of deliveries.”
Emirates in 2013 signed a $76-billion contract for 150 Boeing 777X twin-engine aircraft, powered by GE’s new GE9X engine, in what was the single largest order by value in the history of US commercial aviation.
The order was subsequently increased to 156 planes.
The 777X was originally scheduled to take off on its first test flight this summer, however its development has been slowed by issues with the engine and Boeing has pushed back the timeframe to early 2021.
The delays also hit as Boeing is in the process of completing changes required by regulators on the 737 MAX, which has been grounded worldwide after two crashes that resulted in 346 deaths.