Stung by WeWork, SoftBank boss Son charts more cautious IPO course

How SoftBank says it’ll fix WeWork and turn it profitable

WeWork and Uber drag SoftBank Group into historic negative territory

SoftBank Group Corp said its $100 billion Vision Fund contributed an operating loss of 970 billion yen ($8.9 billion) during the July-September quarter, and an unrealized loss of 537.9 billion yen for the six months of the year as the value of its tech bets such as WeWork and Uber tumbled.

SoftBank recorded an operating loss of 704.4 billion yen ($6.5 billion) after writedowns in WeWork and other investments, the Japanese company's first such loss in 14 years.

Speaking in Tokyo on Wednesday, SoftBank Group founder and CEO Masayoshi Son mentioned he turned a blind eye toward the governance of WeWork.

The Japanese telecommunications giant on Wednesday posted a $6.5 billion operating loss for the July-September quarter, compared to $6.5 billion profit during the same period a year ago.

Mr Son stressed that its new $108b Vision Fund will "launch on schedule", but Saudi Arabia and its neighbour Abu Dhabi, the two major investors in the current $97b fund, have been slow to commit following the WeWork turmoil.

The company investment into WeWork yielded around $3.4 billion-large writedown (374.7 billion yen), which came only two weeks after the firm took control over 80% of WeWork.

SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son speaks all the contrivance in which thru a press conference on November 6, 2019 in Tokyo, Japan.

SoftBank claimed WeWork's value to be as high as $47 billion until the latter's disastrous push for an IPO revealed a troubling financial situation and suspect leadership.

Asked why WeWork was viewed as a technology investment when it's actually a real estate company, Son pointed to internet technology used by the company, which focuses on offering office space to start-ups.

For more than a decade, the Japanese conglomerate SoftBank has reported profit after profit on each quarter.

"The perception is that SoftBank is being dragged down into the quagmire of WeWork", he said. Indeed, he said that fundraising for a second Vision Fund is on track and the fund will debut soon.

Son promised a turnaround at WeWork, saying it's "not a sinking ship".

And some analysts said the results were "not so desperately bad". "If SoftBank is to go on as an investment company, it needs to do a better job explaining its own governance to investors".

Adam Neumann, a co-founder of WeWork, stepped down as chief executive in September.

SoftBank has backed ByteDance Inc., the most valuable startup in the world at $75 billion, and the second-most valuable, China ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing.

"We don't need to do anything tricky or invent anything", he said. He said that his returns are about twice the average for venture capital. "I regret it in many ways".

Below questioning from journalists on Wednesday, Son justified the categorisation and financial investment in WeWork owing its featuring of business house to AI corporations, as effectively as previously acquiring ideas for AI that it no longer designs to pursue. The first Vision Fund was apparently still experiencing massive growth in terms of cumulative investments.

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