SoftBank Group Corp. is boosting its bet on Latin America’s burgeoning tech industry, adding $3 billion for investments in a region quickly gaining popularity with foreign venture capitalists.
The Japanese firm is launching a second private investment fund, bringing its total earmarked for the region to $8 billion, according to a company statement. The fund, which may raise additional capital, plans to invest in technology-related companies from early stage startups to those that have already gone public, SoftBank said.
Billionaire Masayoshi Son’s technology conglomerate has found fertile ground in Latin America. In March 2019, it launched a $5 billion dedicated fund, which has invested $3.5 billion in 48 companies as of June and generated a net internal rate of return of 85% in U.S. dollar terms, the company said.
“Over the past two years, we have seen tremendous success and returns from the SoftBank Latin America Fund that far exceeded our expectations,” Marcelo Claure, the executive who leads SoftBank’s Latin America funds, said in a statement.
With the SoftBank Latin America Fund II, the company said it will focus on e-commerce, digital financial services, health care, education, blockchain and insurance companies from across the region.
Foreign funds such as SoftBank and Sequoia Capital and local investors like Kaszek Ventures helped push venture investments in the region this year to a record $6.45 billion across 323 deals in the first half, according to industry group LAVCA.
SoftBank said it has made investments in 15 of the region’s 25 unicorns, the term for a startup worth $1 billion or more, including Colombian delivery company Rappi Inc., Brazilian real estate technology firm QuintoAndar and Latin American crypto unicorn, Mercado Bitcoin. In July, a SoftBank-backed e-commerce software company, VTEX, went public in the U.S.
“We expect that 2022 will be the biggest IPO year in Latin America’s history,” Claure said.
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