Business / Corporate

Big spender SoftBank posts record profit

Reuters

Buoyed by its investments in technology firms around the world, SoftBank Group Corp. has reported a record annual operating profit in line with analyst estimates.

Profit for the year ended March rose to ¥1.3 trillion ($11.87 billion), from ¥1 trillion a year ago, SoftBank said.

Steered by founder and CEO Masayoshi Son, the group has become a top global technology investor as it looks to create a set of leading companies powered by interconnected devices and artificial intelligence.

SoftBank’s private equity arm had invested $29.7 billion in 25 tech firms, such as dog-walking app Wag and construction startup Katerra, as of the end of March.

Separately, SoftBank has invested a total of $12.9 billion in ride-hailing firms Uber and Didi Chuxing, the company said on Wednesday, adding that these investments may be offered to the Vision Fund at a later date.

The telecoms and tech firm has attracted financing from sovereign wealth funds and other tech companies to create the Vision Fund. As of last May, it had raised over $93 billion, making it the world’s largest private equity fund.

SoftBank is planning a public listing of its domestic telecoms unit this year. It is also considering raising billions of dollars of loans through its U.K.-based tech firm ARM Holdings, banking sources said in March.

SoftBank did not release a forecast for the current business year, saying there were too many uncertain factors.

SoftBank shares were up about 1 percent in a wider market that was down half a percent. However, SoftBank shares are down 4 percent so far this year.

Investor confusion over how mutually supportive SoftBank’s array of investments are has contributed to the “conglomerate discount” that has weighed on its share price.

Son recently decided to let go of one of SoftBank’s biggest overseas bets, U.S. wireless carrier Sprint Corp., which will merge with T-Mobile U.S. Inc. after struggling to compete with bigger rivals.