SoftBank boss: ‘Losses won’t stop me fighting’

SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son. (AFP/File)
Updated 06 December 2019

SoftBank boss: ‘Losses won’t stop me fighting’

  • SoftBank owns 26 percent of China’s Alibaba

TOKYO: Weeks after his billion-dollar bailout of WeWork, SoftBank Group Corp’s founder and CEO Masayoshi Son reiterated his belief in an instinct-led investing style, in a discussion with Alibaba Group Holding Inc’s co-founder Jack Ma.

SoftBank owns 26 percent of China’s Alibaba, with its origin in a $20 million investment in 2000, and the stake is now worth more than the Japanese firm’s market capitalization.

Son on Friday said the decision to invest in Alibaba was driven by a gut feeling.

Other entrepreneurs Son met at that time “did not have true belief in their heart. I can feel,” Son said. “We are the same animal. We are both a little crazy,” he said of long-time ally Ma.

Ma said Son initially tried to invest $50 million in the e-commerce firm, but that he declined saying it was too large a sum — part of a pattern of offering big cheques to company founders that continued with WeWork co-founder Adam Neumann.

Son’s comments come weeks after he was forced to bail out office-sharing startup WeWork when Neumann’s level of control over his firm and hard-partying ways chilled investor appetite and crashed plans for an initial public offering (IPO).

Son last month said he misjudged Neumann’s character, after WeWork — formally The We Company — and other sputtering bets saw his $100 billion Vision Fund report an $8.9 billion second-quarter operating loss.

The conversation at Tokyo University between two of Asia’s leading tech entrepreneurs comes at a point of divergence in their careers, with 55-year-old Ma retiring as Alibaba’s executive chairman in September and Son pledging to spend his sixth decade at the helm of his juggernaut.

SoftBank hopes to drive commercialization of the emerging field of artificial intelligence (AI), announcing on Friday it will spend 20 billion yen ($184 million) over 10 years funding an AI research institute with Tokyo University.

Son “probably has the biggest guts in the world on doing investment,” Ma said.

“Too much guts, sometimes I lose a lot of money,” Son responded.

“I have not achieved anything yet,” Son said. “I’m still a challenger and every day I’m still fighting.”


Saudi Arabia starts selling triple-tranche dollar bonds

Updated 21 January 2020

Saudi Arabia starts selling triple-tranche dollar bonds

  • The kingdom is offering initial price guidance of around 110 basis points (bps) over US Treasuries for the seven-year paper

DUBAI: The government of Saudi Arabia started marketing on Tuesday US dollar denominated bonds split into tranches of seven, 12 and 35 years, a document showed.

The kingdom is offering initial price guidance of around 110 basis points (bps) over US Treasuries for the seven-year paper, 135 bps over the benchmark for the 12-year tranche, and 180 bps over for the 35-year.

Citigroup, Morgan Stanley and Standard Chartered are joint global coordinators and lead managers, and BNP Paribas, HSBC, JPMorgan and NCB Capital have been hired as passive lead managers.