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SoftBank posts US$23.1 billion Vision Fund loss on tech slump

SoftBank posts US$23.1 billion Vision Fund loss on tech slump

FILE PHOTO: The logo of SoftBank Group Corp is displayed at SoftBank World 2017 conference in Tokyo, Japan, July 20, 2017. REUTERS/Issei Kato/File Photo

TOKYO: SoftBank Group on Monday (Aug 8) booked an investment loss of US$23.1 billion at its Vision Fund unit in the April-June quarter after a slide in the value of its assets, including closely watched unlisted holdings, amid market turmoil.

SoftBank had booked a record loss at the Vision Fund unit in May as market volatility driven by rising interest rates and political instability hit the tech investor.

SoftBank founder and CEO Masayoshi Son, who will speak at an earnings briefing from 4.30pm local time (0730 GMT), has pledged to tighten investing criteria and preserve cash to weather the downturn.

In the quarter ended in June, falling listed investments included robotics firm AutoStore Holdings and artificial intelligence firm SenseTime Group.

SoftBank said it wrote down the value of unlisted assets across its two Vision Funds by 1.14 trillion yen (US$8.43 billion). Analysts have said writedowns of these private assets were unlikely to reflect the extent of current market weakness.

The second Vision Fund's stakes in 269 firms were worth US$37.2 billion at end-June, compared with an acquisition cost of US$48.2 billion.

Plunging initial public offering volumes and market scepticism towards money-losing startups have squeezed an important source of capital for SoftBank, which hopes to list chip designer Arm following the collapse of a sale to Nvidia.

To raise cash, SoftBank has exited companies including ridehailer Uber Technologies and home-selling platform Opendoor Technologies, for a total gain of US$5.6 billion.

SoftBank sold Uber at an average share price of US$41.47, compared to the Friday closing price of US$32.01.

The sell-off has also hit hedge fund Tiger Global, which competes with Softbank's "unicorn hunter" CEO Son on deals and saw its flagship fund fall 50 per cent in the first half of the year after it underestimated the impact of surging inflation on markets.

Berkshire Hathaway booked a US$44 billion quarterly loss on its investments and derivatives, with Chief Executive Warren Buffett urging investors to ignore the fluctuations.

SoftBank's sliding portfolio pushed it to a 3.16 trillion yen net loss in the latest quarter. That compared with profit of 761.5 billion yen in the same period a year earlier.

Source: Reuters/ic
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