SoftBank’s 2nd fund starting life a lot smaller than the first

  • Banking
  • Monday, 18 Nov 2019

NEW YORK: SoftBank Group Corp has quietly completed an initial money-raising push for its second technology fund, at a fraction of its targeted US$108bil.

The Japanese company has raised roughly US$2bil for the second Vision Fund so it can start backing startups, according to two people familiar with the matter.

This stage of the fund-raising process is known as a first close, and SoftBank will continue gathering commitments.

A Vision Fund spokesman declined to comment.

SoftBank said in July that its second Vision Fund would be even larger than the first, which broke records in 2017 by raising almost US$100bil.

This time around, SoftBank has said it is taking more control, committing US$38bil of its own capital and replacing Saudi Arabia, which was the largest investor in the first fund.

So far, it is unclear whether there are any outside investors in the second fund.

The original Vision Fund was announced in October 2016, but took another seven months for its first major closing with US$93bil in commitments.

Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund and Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala Investment Co, which contributed US$45bil and US$15bil, respectively, to the first fund, are reconsidering how much to put into the new fund, Bloomberg News previously reported.

Talks with Saudi Arabia are still ongoing, said the people, who asked not to be identified discussing private matters.

Mubadala recently told Bloomberg News it had yet to decide on whether it would invest.

SoftBank has said the second fund is also expected to collect money from Apple Inc, Microsoft Corp, Foxconn Technology Group and the sovereign wealth fund of Kazakhstan.

SoftBank’s second Vision Fund has made at least one investment already. It recently participated in a financing round for Chinese online property listing service Beike Zhaofang, people with knowledge of the matter said.

The company previously raised US$800mil from investors in March, Caixin reported at the time.

A representative for Beike was not immediately reachable for comment.

WeWork and Uber Technologies Inc, two of the largest investments made by SoftBank and the first Vision Fund, have performed poorly this year.

A recent summary of the first Vision Fund portfolio showed that the fair value of the fund’s stakes in transportation and logistics companies was US$31.1bil as of Sept 30, just below the cost of those investments.

The fair value of the fund’s real estate investments was US$7.5bil, below the US$9bil cost.

That’s prompted some soul-searching at the Japanese company.

“There was a problem with my own judgment, that’s something I have to reflect on, ” SoftBank founder Masayoshi Son said. — Bloomberg

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