SoftBank Group’s consolidated net profit for April-December hit ¥3.05 trillion, a figure that SMBC Nikko says is a record high for a Japanese firm for the first three quarters. Net profit for the third quarter rocketed to ¥1.17 trillion — that’s more than 21 times the ¥55 billion reported a year earlier.
The coronavirus-driven economic crisis has worked largely in SoftBank’s favor, with rallies in tech stocks it owns and rising valuations for firms in its portfolio suited to the era, including food delivery. Just last month, SoftBank sold about $2 billion in Uber stock after a rally in the ride-hailing giant’s shares, and it still has stock in the firm worth about $10 billion to play with.
After successful IPOs in 2020 helped push the value of Masayoshi Son’s tech conglomerate to the highest since the dot-com boom, SoftBank is preparing to take at least six more of its portfolio firms public this year, Bloomberg reports. Among the startups targeted are South Korean e-commerce pioneer Coupang, Indonesian online mall PT Tokopedia and China ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing.
A blot on the 2020 copybook was SoftBank’s controversial derivatives strategy, which was wound down after a sustained backlash from investors. Shareholders balked after SoftBank’s foray into derivatives trading was first disclosed in September, cutting the company’s market value by as much as $17 billion.
Son is still anxious to take his investment giant private, and his latest strategy is a “slow buyback,” sources tell Bloomberg — a gradual buying back of outstanding shares until Son has a big enough stake that he can squeeze out remaining investors. The approach will likely take more than a year and would involve the company continuing to sell assets to fund successive buybacks, the people said.
Son and SoftBank have come a long way from the days when the center of his tech empire was the Japanese telecoms unit SoftBank Corp. At the end of the fiscal year, Son will step down as chairman of SoftBank Corp., which he spun out of the larger group in 2018, although he still owns a 40% stake in the firm.