Masayoshi Son, the founder, and chief executive officer of Japan’s SoftBank, has skipped the kingdom’s Future Investment Initiative (FII) business conference late last October, amid an ongoing investigation into the killing of Washington Post contributor Jamal Khashoggi, but on Monday, he offered strong words of support to Saudi.
Son said Monday that he is not turning his back on his investments with Saudi Arabia.
“These funds are important to the Saudi people in ensuring their economy diversifies and is no longer dependent on oil,” Son said during the company’s earnings call on Monday.
SoftBank, which has big stakes in top U.S. companies, including Sprint and Uber, partnered with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman in 2016 through the bank’s Vision Fund. $45bn of its $100 billion fund came from Saudi to invest in a number of startups and companies such as WeWork and Slack.
Earlier this month, Larry Fink, CEO of BlackRock, said while he chose not to travel to Saudi Arabia’s international investment conference, he has no intention of cutting ties completely with the country.
John Flint, chief executive of HSBC, said that while he, too, ditched the FII, he doesn’t even want to think about “disengaging from Saudi Arabia”, as reported by Vanity Fair.
SoftBank has called out the contribution of its investment funds in helping the company increase its net income by 480% for its second quarter to 542 billion yen ($4.8 billion), or 605% for the first half to $7.7bn, according to zdnet.com
Of the $6.25bn SoftBank reported as operating income for the three months to September 30, $3.47 bn was derived from its SoftBank Vision Fund and its Delta Fund.
“The company’s latest earnings report showed a 233% jump in gains on Vision Fund investments over the same period last year. Investment gains increased to about $5.7 billion for the six-month period ended September 30, topping the $1.7 billion posted last year,” said Yahoo Finance.
Last month in an interview with Bloomberg, the Saudi Crown Prince said the country’s Public Investment Fund would look to double its investment in the SoftBank Vision Fund, and take its stake from $45 billion to $90 billion.
Vision Fund II
During the company’s earnings call, Son said he hadn’t heard of pushback from any startups about taking Vision Fund dollars, but that Vision Fund II, his next $100 billion venture, a version 2.0 of the world’s biggest technology fund, could face a slight delay.
But If the latest Vision Fund deal is any indication, concerns over startups accepting Vision Fund backing is clearly not an issue.
Last week, Son’s Vision Fund completed a $1.1 billion investment in Silicon Valley-based smart glass maker View, according to Bloomberg.