SFTBY - SoftBank Group Corp.

Other OTC - Other OTC Delayed Price. Currency in USD
22.22
-0.08 (-0.34%)
At close: 3:59PM EST
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Previous Close22.29
Open22.09
Bid0.00 x 0
Ask0.00 x 0
Day's Range22.09 - 22.23
52 Week Range17.67 - 28.04
Volume428,749
Avg. Volume735,034
Market Cap91.545B
Beta (5Y Monthly)1.62
PE Ratio (TTM)3.11
EPS (TTM)7.15
Earnings DateN/A
Forward Dividend & Yield0.20 (0.91%)
Ex-Dividend DateSep. 24, 2019
1y Target EstN/A
  • Indonesian minister says SoftBank offering to invest up to $40 billion in new capital
    Reuters

    Indonesian minister says SoftBank offering to invest up to $40 billion in new capital

    SoftBank has offered to invest up to $40 billion in the new capital city Indonesia plans to build on Borneo island, a minister said on Friday, though the Japanese tech conglomerate said no figure had been suggested yet. Indonesian President Joko Widodo announced in August plans to move the administrative capital to East Kalimantan province, on Borneo, to relieve Jakarta from "a heavy burden" due to overcrowding and pollution. Indonesia has previously put the cost of moving the capital at $33 billion, but Luhut Pandjaitan, Indonesia's coordinating minister for maritime affairs and investment, said Softbank Group Corp had offered up to $40 billion.

  • SoftBank Offers to Invest $40 Billion in Indonesia’s Capital
    Bloomberg

    SoftBank Offers to Invest $40 Billion in Indonesia’s Capital

    (Bloomberg) -- SoftBank Group Corp. offered to invest $30 billion to $40 billion toward the development of a new Indonesian capital, a senior member of President Joko Widodo’s cabinet said on Friday.SoftBank Chief Executive Officer and founder Masayoshi Son met Jokowi, as the head of state is popularly known, in Jakarta last week and expressed his interest in joining the project. The billionaire has already been appointed to the steering committee overseeing the city’s construction.“I will meet Masayoshi in Davos and then Tokyo,” Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investments Luhut Pandjaitan told a news conference in Jakarta. The “president will decide on the matter in February.”The size of the investment proposal from the Japanese company is puzzling as Indonesia has estimated the total cost of building the new capital from the scratch at about $34 billion. SoftBank said in an emailed statement later Friday that the company hasn’t disclosed actual numbers. In 2018, the company signed a memorandum of understanding to support a planned $200 billion solar project in Saudi Arabia. SoftBank and the Public Investment Fund have said they’re continuing to collaborate on solar energy plans after the Wall Street Journal said the project was put on hold.U.A.E. Prince, SoftBank’s Son to Steer New Indonesian CapitalIndonesia is set to begin construction of a new capital on Borneo island later this year as Jokowi seeks to decongest a fast-sinking Jakarta. Son joins a long list of global investors keen to participate in the relocation project.The new city will sport world-class educational institutions, modern hospitals, botanical gardens and an environmentally-friendly transportation system, according to officials. Investors from China, the Middle East and the U.S. have shown interest in developing the city, Pandjaitan has said.(Updates with SoftBank’s comment in the fourth paragraph)\--With assistance from Pavel Alpeyev.To contact the reporters on this story: Harry Suhartono in Jakarta at hsuhartono@bloomberg.net;Arys Aditya in Jakarta at aaditya5@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Thomas Kutty Abraham at tabraham4@bloomberg.net, Edwin Chan, Vlad SavovFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

  • SoftBank's Oyo lays off over 1,000 employees in India amid profit push
    Reuters

    SoftBank's Oyo lays off over 1,000 employees in India amid profit push

    SoftBank-backed Oyo Hotels and Homes is laying off hundreds of employees in India, according to a source and an internal memo seen by Reuters, as the loss-making hotel chain cuts costs in pursuit of profits. The move is part of a larger priority to drive profitability and sustainable growth, following a cash-guzzling expansion spree that took Oyo to dozens of new markets including China and the United States, an email from Chief Executive Ritesh Agarwal to Oyo employees on Monday showed. "Some roles at OYO will become redundant as we further drive tech-enabled synergy, enhanced efficiency and remove duplication of effort across businesses or geographies," Agarwal wrote.

  • U.A.E Ruler, SoftBank’s Son to Oversee Building of Indonesia’s New Capital
    Bloomberg

    U.A.E Ruler, SoftBank’s Son to Oversee Building of Indonesia’s New Capital

    (Bloomberg) -- Indonesia nominated Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan to chair a panel to oversee the construction of a new capital, easing the burden on sinking and congested Jakarta.SoftBank Chief Executive Officer and founder Masayoshi Son and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair will also join the steering committee, according to Indonesia’s Coordinating Ministry for Maritime Affairs and Investment. The panel will advise the government on building the new capital at a cost of $34 billion and provide a confidence boost for prospective investors, the ministry said.Indonesia is set to begin construction of the new capital on Borneo island later this year as President Joko Widodo seeks to decongest a fast sinking Jakarta. SoftBank Group’s Son last week expressed interest in building a smart and green city, joining a long list of global investors wanting to participate in the capital relocation project.Jokowi, as Widodo is commonly known, is counting on private and state-owned entities to bear about 80% of the cost of building the capital. The crown prince accepted Jokowi’s offer to helm the panel at a meeting in Abu Dhabi this week where investment deals worth $22.8 billion were signed between companies from the United Arab Emirates and Indonesia, the ministry said.Jokowi also discussed plans for setting up a sovereign wealth fund with the crown prince and SoftBank’s Son, details of which will be finalized at a meeting in Tokyo later this month, Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment Luhut Pandjaitan said in the statement.Indonesia has identified about 256,000 hectares of land on the island of Borneo for the yet-to-be-named capital -- about four times the size of Jakarta. Regular flooding in the Jakarta metropolitan area, home to almost 30 million people, and the need to spread economic growth beyond the main Java island have prompted Jokowi to fast-track the capital relocation.Authorities will move the capital in phases from 2024, with the new city eventually becoming home to as many as 6-7 million people.“We don’t want to just build a small-scale administrative capital, but we want to build a smart metropolis because the population will be three times the population of Paris, 10 times the population of Washington DC, and even will equal the population of New York and London,” Jokowi said in a statement Monday.(Updates with comments on sovereign wealth fund in fifth paragraph.)\--With assistance from Rieka Rahadiana.To contact the reporter on this story: Arys Aditya in Jakarta at aaditya5@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Stephanie Phang at sphang@bloomberg.net, Thomas Kutty Abraham, Ruth PollardFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

  • WeWork debacle has unicorn investors seeking cover
    Reuters

    WeWork debacle has unicorn investors seeking cover

    BANGALORE/SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - In the months since office-sharing startup WeWork's botched public debut, mid- and late-stage investors in big start-ups have been pushing for more safeguards in case their firms fail to go public or sell shares at a lower valuation than pre-IPO financing rounds. Fundraising terms are rarely made public, but more than a dozen Silicon Valley-based lawyers, entrepreneurs and venture-capital investors told Reuters that since WeWork's cancelled public offering and other ill-fated IPOs, investors have been securing protections of their original investments in "unicorns" - private companies valued at $1 billion or more. Tougher terms are the price to pay for ensuring late-stage funding and sustaining the pipeline of initial public offerings, but also can be detrimental for founders, employees and early-stage investors, which in turn could make M&A deals challenging.

  • Bloomberg

    SoftBank-Backed Oyo Firing Thousands Across China and India

    (Bloomberg) -- Oyo Hotels is firing thousands of staff across China and India, people familiar with the matter said, adding to growing signs of trouble at one of the largest startups in SoftBank Group Corp.’s portfolio.The company has let go of 5% of its 12,000 employees in China partly due to non-performance, while dismissing 12% of its 10,000 staff in India, one of the people said. It plans to shed another 1,200 in India over the next three to four months, the person added. Oyo is undergoing a restructuring, trimming redundancy in China and India, leading to thousands of dismissals, according to the people, who requested not to be named because they aren’t authorized to talk to media.“We continue to be one of the best places to work for and one of the key reasons for this has been our ability to consistently evaluate, reward and recognize the performance of individuals in a meritocratic manner, and enable them to improve their performance,” Oyo said in a statement.Oyo’s downsizing is another setback for Masayoshi Son‘s SoftBank, whose portfolio has been buffeted by recent trouble at WeWork and slumping share prices at Slack Technologies Inc. and Uber Technologies Inc. The billionaire has called for greater financial discipline among the founders in his portfolio, spurring job cuts at smaller outfits such as Zume Pizza Inc. Other SoftBank investees, including Getaround, Wag Labs Inc., Fair and Brandless Inc., have had to cut staff or changed business models once it became apparent revenue and profits were not living up to their once-grand ambitions.Read more: SoftBank Vision Fund Employees Depict a Culture of RecklessnessAdding to Oyo’s challenges, hotel owners in China have been protesting in front of the company’s offices, accusing the startup of violating contractual agreements. The growing turmoil may complicate SoftBank’s efforts to raise a successor to the Vision Fund, the world’s largest pool of startup investments.Oyo will “enhance communications with hotel owners and develop owner loyalty” this year, the company said in the statement. “We will launch the VIP owner program, and contact owners regularly, to ensure that the interests and needs of theirs and ours are equally taken into account.”Son has been a keen supporter of Oyo founder Ritesh Agarwal, helping fund the hotel company’s fast international expansion. Oyo had been growing at a rapid clip, but its reputation has suffered due to customer complaints about bad experiences along with grievances about poor or unfair treatment from several of the more than 20,000 hotel owners in its chain.“Oyo is one of SoftBank’s current crown jewels,” said Michael Norris, research and strategy manager at Shanghai-based consultancy AgencyChina. “Issues in China, Oyo’s largest market, continues the Vision Fund’s woes.” It would make raising a similar-sized second Vision Fund a challenge, he added.SoftBank’s Vision Fund has so far invested about $1.5 billion in Oyo, pushing its valuation to $10 billion. The company also counts Airbnb Inc., Sequoia Capital and Lightspeed Venture Partners as backers. It promoted its real estate business chief, Rohit Kapoor, to CEO for India and South Asia in December to shake up the business.In its aggressive effort to acquire market share, Oyo offered hotel stays for as cheap as $4 a night, according to one person familiar with its practices. The company also stocked up on rented room inventory by signing exclusive deals and guaranteeing income to hotel owners. It’s now allegedly reneging on those guarantees, the cause of the protests outside its Chinese offices, one person said.Read more: Ritesh Agarwal, the Amazingly Ambitious Hotelier(Updates with Oyo response starting in third paragraph.)To contact the reporters on this story: Saritha Rai in Bangalore at srai33@bloomberg.net;Lulu Yilun Chen in Hong Kong at ychen447@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Peter Elstrom at pelstrom@bloomberg.net, Vlad Savov, Edwin ChanFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Reuters

    SoftBank's Son eyes further Indonesia investments

    SoftBank Group Corp founder and CEO Masayoshi Son said on Friday he wants to expand his tech conglomerate's investments in Indonesia, in remarks following a meeting with President Joko Widodo. "We don't discuss the specific numbers yet, but new smart city, newest technology, clean city, with a lot of AI, that's what I'm interested in supporting," Son said in comments reported by local media and confirmed by a company spokesman. Son's comments came after Indonesian coordinating affairs minister for maritime affairs and investment Luhut Pandjaitan told reporters earlier this week the Japanese tech billionaire was interested in investing in the country's new capital city, which will replace the megacity of Jakarta.

  • The Great Food-Delivery Fight Arrives in the U.S.
    Bloomberg

    The Great Food-Delivery Fight Arrives in the U.S.

    (Bloomberg Opinion) -- The appetite for major consolidation sweeping the global food delivery industry has finally reached the U.S. Now the big question is, which combination would be easier to stomach? The fly in the soup may, as ever, be SoftBank Group Corp.Waves of dealmaking have reduced the number of online food delivery players in markets such as the U.K. and South Korea to just two or three. In Germany, there’s only one — Takeaway.com NV. Yet the U.S. still has four major rivals: Grubhub Inc., SoftBank-backed DoorDash Inc., Uber Technologies Inc., another company in SoftBank’s stable, and the smaller Postmates Inc.Grubhub is “considering strategic options including a possible sale,” the Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday. The biggest U.S. player until 2018, it has lost market share to its venture capital-backed peers, and the stock had fallen 63% from its peak before the news hit.The Chicago-based firm’s business model differs from its rivals. While the likes of Uber Eats provide a network of couriers to deliver food from their network of restaurants, Grubhub has operated largely as a digital platform since its founding in 2004. It simply connected restaurants to customers, leaving the eateries responsible for actually delivering the food. Under CEO and co-founder Matt Maloney, it became the dominant destination to order food online in the U.S.His platform approach was a lot more profitable. Because Grubhub didn’t have to shoulder the costs of couriers, and just took a cut of each meal ordered, it was able to enjoy Ebitda representing more than 20% of sales between 2013 and 2017, when competition started to ramp up. Its rivals have always been loss-making.But that model also made it harder to attract major fast-food chains such as McDonald’s Corp., which don’t want to have to take on the fixed cost of maintaining a network of couriers themselves. So Grubhub has belatedly started building out that capability in an effort to defend its market share. However, that’s hurt profitability. Still, despite those headwinds, Grubhub remains an attractive business, not least because of its dominant position in New York, where credit-card data analysis firm Second Measure estimates it has 67% market share.The difficulty lies in the deal price. Based on Grubhub’s cost of capital and anticipated 2022 earnings, a buyer would probably need to find annual savings exceeding $500 million by the end of that period to justify paying a 30% premium — even to the share price the day before the Wall Street Journal report, which would value the firm at about $6 billion including debt. Such savings would be a near impossible ask: Grubhub’s operating expenses over the past 12 months totaled just $1.2 billion. It would instead be a risky gamble on increased pricing power allowing the new firm to improve profitability enough to service any new debt. And the path to profitability for firms with their own couriers remains unclear. That probably rules out an approach by Amsterdam-based tech investor Prosus NV, which has no local business, reducing the opportunity both to find synergies and to remove a market competitor.A merger with one of Grubhub’s existing U.S. rivals therefore seems a more rational solution. An all-stock combination would reduce concerns about justifying a capital outlay on a firm with low returns, while offering greater opportunities for cost savings and increased pricing power. And combining Grubhub’s major network of restaurants with a rival’s couriers could prove attractive.But there are problems here, too. San Francisco-based DoorDash, arguably the most logical candidate strategically, was valued at nearly $13 billion in its most recent funding round. That sky-high figure would be a problem for Grubhub shareholders. Their firm may not be growing as quickly as DoorDash, but it is similarly sized and a lot more profitable. It’s hard to see them accepting a merger where DoorDash investors ended up with more than two-thirds of the combined entity.Yet giving Grubhub shareholders a bigger stake could require DoorDash’s investors to write down the value of their holdings in the company. And that’s the last thing that SoftBank needs, fresh as it is from a year where underperforming investments such as Uber and troubled coworking-space trailblazer WeWork already prompted a $4.9 billion writedown. SoftBank is one of DoorDash’s biggest investors.A combination with Uber Eats is the best alternative to DoorDash. But SoftBank again might create difficulties. If push came to shove, it’s more likely to favor an Uber Eats-DoorDash tie-up, rather than continuing to back two companies fighting each other for customers and restaurants.Which leaves Postmates, the San Francisco-based firm which delivers everything from groceries to pizza and just expanded beyond food with an alliance with retailer Old Navy. It’s the less attractive solution for Grubhub, which would have to be the acquirer, and would be unlikely to add the scale needed to compete effectively. But such a combination does have some industrial logic — adding Postmates’s network of couriers to Grubhub’s restaurants — and is less likely to raise the hackles of antitrust regulators.Were SoftBank not at the table, a combination with DoorDash or Uber Eats would make the most sense. But as it stands, Grubhub could be left fighting for the scraps.To contact the author of this story: Alex Webb at awebb25@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Melissa Pozsgay at mpozsgay@bloomberg.netThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Alex Webb is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering Europe's technology, media and communications industries. He previously covered Apple and other technology companies for Bloomberg News in San Francisco.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

  • SoftBank in talks to sell stake in Indian renewable energy venture - ET
    Reuters

    SoftBank in talks to sell stake in Indian renewable energy venture - ET

    SoftBank Group Corp is in talks to sell a majority stake in its renewable energy joint venture in India as it looks to raise cash after facing setbacks to its global investments, India's Economic Times daily reported on Thursday. SoftBank's Indian renewable energy business is a joint venture with India's Bharti Enterprises and Taiwan's Foxconn Technology Group.

  • Getaround is latest SoftBank portfolio company to announce layoffs
    TechCrunch

    Getaround is latest SoftBank portfolio company to announce layoffs

    Silicon Valley's top valued car rental startup, Getaround, announced layoffs today, making it the latest SoftBank-backed entity of late to pare down its workforce. Getaround's layoffs come as many other SoftBank-backed startups endure struggles of their own.

  • As Zume layoffs loom, a look back at SoftBank's troubled investing year
    TechCrunch

    As Zume layoffs loom, a look back at SoftBank's troubled investing year

    Changing from the highest-flying conglomerate and most famous capital vehicle to troubled icons of misplaced exuberance, it's tough to be SoftBank and its Vision Fund today. What follows is a semi-comprehensive list of what's gone wrong for SoftBank and the Vision Fund recently, starting in the second quarter of last year. You could go back further, but by my estimation, we're picking up when things began to go sideways for a number of Vision Fund bets at once.

  • Data's the secret weapon for Rappi, SoftBank's big bet in Latin America
    Reuters

    Data's the secret weapon for Rappi, SoftBank's big bet in Latin America

    MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - "We're going to help you understand your missed opportunities," the boss of delivery app Rappi tells restaurants and food brands. Sebastian Mejia's pitch might seem bold for a delivery firm but it helps explain why Rappi is spending heavily on a lightning expansion across Latin America. The company, whose couriers' orange backpacks have become familiar features of cities like São Paulo, Bogota and Mexico City, has yet to make a cent of profit after five years.

  • Market Exclusive

    Market Morning: Xi Fears Debt, WeWork Parachutes, No CBD Coke, Hexo Collapse

    Xi Fears Debt Overload, Hires “Experts” Will “financial experts” help China tackle its increasingly severe public debt problems? That’s what Chinese President Xi Jinping thinks, or at least hopes, by putting 12 former executives at state-run institutions across the country in charge of handling the problem. Most of the experts are central bankers of one […]The post Market Morning: Xi Fears Debt, WeWork Parachutes, No CBD Coke, Hexo Collapse appeared first on Market Exclusive.

  • Bloomberg

    SoftBank Loses Veteran Board Member as Uniqlo Founder Exits

    (Bloomberg) -- Fast Retailing Co. Chief Executive Officer Tadashi Yanai is leaving SoftBank Group Corp.’s board after more than 18 years as one of the few directors with the heft to challenge Masayoshi Son.Yanai, Japan’s richest man, will step down on Dec. 31, according to a SoftBank statement on Friday. He is leaving the post to focus on running his own business, SoftBank spokeswoman Hiroe Kotera said. The founder of fashion chain Uniqlo has served as a SoftBank board member since June 2001.With this departure, SoftBank investors lose one of the few board members capable of standing up to Son. The 70-year-old has been reported as a rare voice of dissent when it came to Son’s ambitious and risky acquisitions. The two men, whose respective companies both went public in the same month of 1994, have often engaged in jocular sparring at SoftBank annual shareholder meetings.At the June meeting this year, Son shared some predictions that were eye-popping even by the standards of the outspoken Japanese billionaire. The value of SoftBank’s investment portfolio could grow 33-fold to 200 trillion yen ($1.8 trillion) in 20 years, he said. The remarks drew laughs from directors while Yanai feigned outrage, urging shareholders to look out for Son “or he will go out of control.”Read more: SoftBank Vision Fund Employees Depict a Culture of RecklessnessSon’s investment style came under fire this year after he boosted the equity in office-sharing startup WeWork only to see it plummet as investors balked at enormous losses and troublesome governance. The Vision Fund has also had to write down the value of its ride-hailing portfolio after Uber Technologies Inc. fell more than 30% following its listing in May.Still, SoftBank’s shares are set to end the year 30% higher and Son appears unfazed by the setbacks. The 62-year-old is in the process of raising another mega-fund -- the Vision Fund 2. They gained 1.5% in Tokyo before news of Yanai’s departure emerged.“Independent board members are not going to change this company,” said Mitsushige Akino, an executive officer at Ichiyoshi Asset Management Co. in Tokyo. “SoftBank has always been and will remain Son’s company.”Yanai’s exit leaves SoftBank’s board with only a handful of truly independent outside directors: Mitsui & Co.’s Chairman Masami Iijima and University of Tokyo professor Yutaka Matsuo, who joined in June. Jack Ma is a director, however Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. counts SoftBank as its biggest shareholder. Yasir Othman Al-Rumayyan, another board member, heads Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, which is the biggest contributor to Son’s $100 billion Vision Fund.“I always oppose Son in everything he does,” Yanai said at the June gathering. “Dreams are all good, but nothing beats realistic management. Let’s keep our feet firmly on the ground.”(Updates with SoftBank’s shares in the sixth paragraph. A previous version of the story was corrected to remove reference to an external director.)To contact the reporters on this story: Pavel Alpeyev in Tokyo at palpeyev@bloomberg.net;Yuki Furukawa in Tokyo at yfurukawa13@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Edwin Chan at echan273@bloomberg.net, Vlad SavovFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Uniqlo founder Yanai resigns as SoftBank board member after 18 years
    Reuters

    Uniqlo founder Yanai resigns as SoftBank board member after 18 years

    Japan's SoftBank Group Corp said Tadashi Yanai, founder and CEO of Uniqlo parent Fast Retailing , will resign as independent board member at the end of the month after 18 years on the job to focus on his fashion business. A longtime ally and sometime critic of SoftBank founder and CEO Masayoshi Son, the billionaire is one of only three external members of a board filled with SoftBank executives and heads of its portfolio companies.

  • Latin America Roundup: XP’s chart-topping IPO, Wildlife becomes a unicorn, SoftBank backs Konfio
    TechCrunch

    Latin America Roundup: XP’s chart-topping IPO, Wildlife becomes a unicorn, SoftBank backs Konfio

    Tech-driven investment firm XP Investimentos went public on the U.S. Stock Exchange in mid-December, raising $1.81 billion in the fourth-largest IPO of 2019. XP’s stock price jumped 30% on its first day of trading, from $27 per share to $34.50. XP was founded in 2001 to provide brokerage training classes to Brazilians to help them invest in the international stock market.

  • SoftBank's $3 billion WeWork financing talks stall with Japan banks: sources
    Reuters

    SoftBank's $3 billion WeWork financing talks stall with Japan banks: sources

    SoftBank Group Corp's talks to secure $3 billion from Japan's three biggest banks have stalled as the lenders have hit internal lending limits to the firm, two people said, complicating a $9.5 billion rescue package for WeWork. The Japanese technology conglomerate is now likely to enter the new year without the WeWork financing in place, the people said, adding the banks are also concerned about the risks involved in rescuing the U.S. office-sharing startup. Mizuho Financial Group Inc, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc (MUFG) and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group Inc (SMFG) are seeking ways to provide the financing while offsetting exposure, the people said, declining to be identified because the information is not public.

  • Bloomberg

    Masayoshi Son, Tech Visionary or Robber Baron?

    (Bloomberg Opinion) -- This is the year that brought a $100 billion venture capitalist to his knees. In January, SoftBank Group Corp.’s Masayoshi Son was riding high, writing billion-dollar checks to unicorns from office-sharing startup WeWork to autonomous-delivery vehicle designer Nuro. But as 2019 winds down, the Japanese dealmaker is straining to finance a $9.5 billion bailout package for Adam Neumann’s troubled startup, whose valuation has evaporated from $47 billion to $8 billion — or even zero, depending whom you ask. SoftBank’s bad year goes well beyond WeWork. Investors are starting to get the feeling that whatever Son brings to the public is troubled. And you don’t need to look far for proof: Shares of Uber Technologies Inc. and Slack Technologies Inc., both backed by the Vision Fund, tumbled upon listing. To venture funds that rely on IPOs for exits and profit, this dark suspicion is a kiss of death. So how did the world fall out of love with Masa Son? Over the past three years, Son has deployed his giant war chest aggressively, threatening to back a startup’s rival if founders refuse his money, or investing in competitors and forcing them to merge. These unsavory tactics only became more bothersome when much-hyped SoftBank-backed IPOs started failing. Now we’re coming to realize that Son is less a technology guru than a die-hard capitalist, reinventing the 19th-century business model by squeezing workers for a bit of extra profit. Take a look at the Vision Fund’s portfolio. Rather than investing in hard tech such as AI or chip design, a whopping 40% has been funneled into transportation and logistics companies such as Uber and its ride-hailing clones around the world. You can be sure that drivers on the streets of Shanghai and Jakarta don’t get insurance or pension benefits; they’re only paid per ride. This contract culture seeps well beyond delivery, too: India’s lodging chain Oyo Hotels and Homes, for instance, is asking mom-and-pop business owners to absorb big fixed costs upfront, a New York Times investigation found. But we are living in the 21st century, when human capital ought be worth something and worker protests have erupted around the world. In China alone, three SoftBank-backed unicorns faced 32 strikes last year. So it’s just a matter of time before governments start to step in, demanding better labor protection. If you buy into Karl Marx’s view that a business’s profit pie is a zero-sum divide between workers and capitalists, Son’s portion will inevitably shrink. Put another way, the path to profitability for many of his unicorns will be long and winding — or may even lead to a dead end. There’s nothing inherently wrong with being a capitalist, except that SoftBank’s capital is really debt. As I’ve written throughout the year, the company is junk-rated for a good reason: It’s cash poor. Subsidiaries from Sprint Corp. to British chip designer ARM Holdings Inc. don’t put much on the table, so SoftBank has to live off the cash on hand, borrow even more, or sell its investments to the Vision Fund. At the holding level, Son’s company has already amassed 4.5 trillion yen ($41 billion) of interest-bearing net debt. For now, SoftBank is running like a well-oiled machine. But with the Vision Fund fully deployed, and the second iteration likely a lot smaller, Son may have trouble offloading his startup stakes. To make matters worse, he has folded WeWork under the SoftBank umbrella. Beyond footing the bill for a bailout, SoftBank will need to figure out how to finance the office-leasing company’s $47 billion in lease liabilities. By now, Japanese bankers, who for years revered Son and relied on him for banking fees, are having second thoughts.There’s even a case to be made that Son isn’t a terribly skilled capitalist. By September, his Vision Fund had made $11.4 billion, mostly in paper profit, on $76.3 billion in investments deployed over two years. Tiger Global Management, another active investor in late-stage unicorns, has a much better track record. Hedge funds — passive yet nimble investors — are all about due diligence and may well be savvier than Son, who has a habit of writing eye-popping checks after 10 minutes of face time. If there’s anything Son is unshakably good at, it’s financial engineering. Even after a bailout, WeWork’s debt pile somehow won’t show up on SoftBank’s balance sheet: While the parent will have an 80% stake, it won’t hold a majority of voting rights, the company argued. Another example of such wizardry is SoftBank's investment playbook. If it buys shares in a startup and then puts in more money at a higher valuation, it claims to have made a profit. In the June quarter, it booked $3.8 billion in unrealized gains, partly because of a series of investments in Oyo.Of that $11.4 billion capital gain the Vision Fund has booked, just about $4 billion is realized, and from only two deals — the sales of Indian e-commerce company Flipkart Online Services Pvt to Walmart Inc. and well-timed trades in Nvidia Corp. But then Son has always been quick to writeup and reluctant to writedown. After all, in private markets, fair-value accounting is a rigged game. Going into the next decade, Son will eventually have to show his cards. There are many expensive decacorns in his incubator. From Bytedance Inc. to Didi Chuxing Inc., these unicorns with a $10-billion-plus valuation would easily be considered large caps in public markets. When they do list, we’ll quickly find out if Son is indeed a visionary, or just a mediocre capitalist with “too much money” and a lot of mistakes. (Indian e-commerce company Flipkart was sold to Walmart Inc. A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that the purchaser was Amazon.com Inc.)To contact the author of this story: Shuli Ren at sren38@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Rachel Rosenthal at rrosenthal21@bloomberg.netThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Shuli Ren is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering Asian markets. She previously wrote on markets for Barron's, following a career as an investment banker, and is a CFA charterholder.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Lone Star emerges as white-knight bidder for Japanese hotel chain Unizo
    Reuters

    Lone Star emerges as white-knight bidder for Japanese hotel chain Unizo

    Japanese hotel chain Unizo Holdings said on Sunday it had received a friendly buyout offer from U.S. investment fund Lone Star, a deal that could end a five-month takeover battle involving Blackstone Group , Fortress Investment Group and activist investor Elliott Management. Lone Star will launch a tender offer to buy Unizo on Tuesday at 5,100 yen (35.83 pounds) per share, valuing it at 175.4 billion yen, Unizo said, topping the 5,000 yen that Blackstone was planning to offer. The scheme would allow a group of Unizo employees to own a 73% stake in Unizo's common shares, while Lone Star would take a 27% stake, the company said.

  • SoftBank Vision Fund invests $275M in India's Lenskart
    TechCrunch

    SoftBank Vision Fund invests $275M in India's Lenskart

    Lenskart, an omni-channel retailer in India that sells eyewear products, said on Friday that it has raised $275 million in a new financing round from SoftBank Vision Fund as it looks to expand its business in the nation. As part of the new financing round -- dubbed Series G -- some of the nine-year-old startup's existing investors are selling their stake, said Peyush Bansal, founder and chief executive of Lenskart in an interview with TechCrunch. SoftBank Vision Fund’s investment pushes Lenskart’s all-time raise to $456 million.

  • WeWork arranges $1.75 billion credit line with Goldman Sachs
    Reuters

    WeWork arranges $1.75 billion credit line with Goldman Sachs

    Shared workplace operator WeWork said on Tuesday it has arranged a $1.75 billion letter of credit with Goldman Sachs that is in the process of being syndicated and whose funds are expected to be available in January. The credit line is part of SoftBank Group Corp's $9.5 billion bailout that was announced in October when money-losing WeWork was on the brink of running out of cash after its plans to go public were abruptly withdrawn a month earlier. The three-part bailout included a tender offer of up to $3 billion to buy privately held WeWork shares, the acceleration of a $1.5 billion payment from SoftBank that was due next year, and some $5 billion in new debt including the line of credit.

  • SoftBank, Naver Hike Line Offer
    Bloomberg

    SoftBank, Naver Hike Line Offer

    Dec.23 -- SoftBank Group Corp.’s telecom arm and Naver Corp. are increasing their bid to buy out the public shareholders of Line Corp., raising the offer by about 3.5% and valuing Japan’s leading messaging service at about $12 billion. Pavel Alpeyev reports on "Bloomberg Daybreak: Asia."

  • WeWork Clinches $1.75B in Fundraising Push Led by Goldman
    Bloomberg

    WeWork Clinches $1.75B in Fundraising Push Led by Goldman

    Dec.18 -- WeWork has obtained $1.75 billion in new financing in a fundraising push led by Goldman Sachs Group Inc., under terms that free up a mountain of cash for the struggling office-sharing company. Bloomberg's Michelle Davis and Sonali Basak have more on "Bloomberg Daybreak: Americas."