NEW YORK – Michael Ronen, Goldman Sachs Group Inc.’s co-chief operating officer of the global technology, media and telecommunications group, is leaving the firm to join Masayoshi Son’s planned $100 billion SoftBank Vision Fund.
Ronen will join the fund later this year and move from New York to its base in San Carlos, California, according to a statement Tuesday. His retirement from Goldman Sachs was announced in a separate internal memo that was seen by Bloomberg.
Ronen has known Son for many years and was intrigued by the opportunity to work on the world’s largest private equity fund, according to a person familiar with the matter, asking not to be named because the matter is private. Ronen has worked on many large technology, media and telecom deals in recent years, including SoftBank Group Corp.’s deal for majority control of Sprint Corp. in 2013. He has been involved with putting together the Vision Fund this year.
The Vision Fund, which has attracted investment from Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, Apple Inc. and other large institutional backers, is investing in cutting-edge technologies from virtual reality to the internet of things. SoftBank is investing $28 billion in the fund and announced in May it has more than $93 billion in total commitments. The fund aims to reach $100 billion this year, SoftBank said at the time.
No one will immediately replace Ronen, who joined Goldman Sachs in 1998 and was named partner in 2012. His coverage will be taken over by Goldman’s existing media and telecommunications bankers, a person familiar with the matter said. Nick Giovanni is also co-chief operating officer of the global technology, media and telecom group. A Goldman Sachs representative declined comment.
Ronen joins several former Deutsche Bank AG executives recently hired to help find acquisition and investment targets for the Vision Fund. Rajeev Misra, who built Deutsche Bank’s credit derivatives business, is SoftBank’s head of strategic finance and a member of the fund’s investment committee.
Son, 59, has long used cash from broadband and telecom operations in Japan to fund investments in businesses abroad. He was an early backer of Yahoo! Inc. and China’s Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. He spent $22 billion to acquire control of Sprint and last year made the largest deal of his career, buying chipmaker ARM Holdings Plc for $32 billion.
With the Vision Fund, Son vows to become the biggest investor in the technology industry over the next few years. He’s putting money into e-commerce and ride-hailing startups around the world, and seeking longer-term bets in areas like artificial intelligence and the integration of computers and humans.
“We saw a big bang in PCs, we saw a big bang in the internet,” Son said in February on a call with shareholders. “I believe the next big bang is going to be even bigger. To be ready for that, we need to set the foundation and that foundation is SoftBank Vision Fund.”
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