Business / Corporate

SoftBank vows to bolster startup investment through its Vision Fund at shareholders meeting

Kyodo

SoftBank Group Corp. CEO Masayoshi Son said Wednesday that the company will bolster its investment business in a shift in the telecommunications giant’s growth strategy.

“I have used 97 percent of my brain to consider the telecom businesses, but will shift that to investments,” Son said at a meeting with more than 2,300 shareholders in Tokyo.

Son, one of most influential investors in the technology industry, said his company will strengthen its focus on investments in startup ventures possessing artificial intelligence and other cutting-edge technologies through its $100 billion Vision Fund, which was set up last year with partners such as Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund.

“We are the unicorn hunter,” Son said, referring to unlisted startups valued at more than $1 billion.

Among its recent investment projects, SoftBank has taken a stake in ride-hailing service provider Uber Technologies Inc. and has also bought U.S.-based robotics company Boston Dynamics. The company has also invested in British semiconductor designer ARM Holdings PLC.

The CEO said the fund has invested in more than 30 companies since its establishment last May.

At the meeting, shareholders approved the appointment of three new vice presidents — Katsunori Sago, Marcelo Claure and Rajeev Misra.

Son said the company continues to prepare for the listing of its mobile unit SoftBank Corp., which could rival Japan’s largest-ever initial public offering, the 1987 listing of Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp. for some ¥2.2 trillion.