Masayoshi Son’s SoftBank bets on public tech equities

August 12, 2020, 2:14 PM UTC

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Japanese telecom giant SoftBank has been known for its outsized bets in venture capital.

Now it’s diversifying. On Tuesday, SoftBank said that it is establishing an asset management subsidiary with $555 million to invest in about “30 highly liquid publicly listed stocks,” though Bloomberg reports that the subsidiary is targeting more than $10 billion and may rise beyond that.

In particular, SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son says the subsidiary has already invested in the likes of Apple, Amazon, Netflix, and Facebook

It’s a notable roster. It’s all about tech—an area SoftBank’s Vision Fund has been heavily focused on—and the investments are much safer bets compared to its Vision Fund companies. They don’t exactly take advantage of the market dislocation that some firms, such as those in the travel and leisure space, are facing. It really is, as SoftBank puts it, about the high liquidity—which makes sense at a time when the company is shedding assets. 

That said, we don’t have full insight into the subsidiary’s investments, given the vehicle’s unusual financing structure that can stop SoftBank’s name from appearing in public records, per Bloomberg.

And I say diversification because Son is not characterizing it as an about-face for SoftBank. “We still plan on Unicorn hunting with Vision Fund two, three, and so on,” he says.

Airbnb’s IPO: The home-sharing platform is nearing a public filing that may come later this month, per the Wall Street Journal. Although the pandemic sent travel into a vortex, CEO Brian Chesky was surprised by the level of bookings that returned in recent months. What still remains unclear: whether the company may choose to go public by merging with a SPAC or via the much-rumored direct listing.

Lucinda Shen
Twitter: @shenlucinda


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