Aug 10, 2021 - Economy

SoftBank plans to "wait and see" on China's domestic techlash

Masa Son

Masayoshi Son. Photo: Kiyoshi Ota/Bloomberg via Getty Images

China's regulatory shakeup is causing even one of its biggest believers —SoftBank — to take pause.

Driving the news: "We don't have any doubts about the potential of China but again, new rules are being implemented, so until it gets settled, we want to wait and see," SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son told analysts during the company's quarterly earnings presentation.

  • While Chinese investments make up 23% of SoftBank's overall Vision Fund investments so far, only 11% of those made in the last quarter are in China, Son pointed out.

Why it matters: Beijing's crackdown on a number of sectors and companies — including newly public ride-hailing giant Didi, one of the Vision Fund's big bets — has rattled investors and put some upcoming IPOs on ice.

The big picture: SoftBank's Vision Fund (which now comprises its first and second fund, along with its Latin American fund) posted ​​a ¥236 billion ($2.14 billion) profit last quarter.

  • While some of its portfolio companies went public and generated gains, others like Coupang and Auto1, saw their stock price fall.
  • Son also announced that given the approval of SoftBank's board, it will implement a program through which he and other Vision Fund execs will invest in the unit's second fund, putting up about 17% of the capital. A similar program was planned and later scrapped for the first fund.
  • As for taking outside capital, Son told analysts that one investor has expressed interest in putting money into SoftBank's second vision fund, but that for the time being, "we want to continue this way and we want to wait and see ... for now our own money is enough to keep the cycle going."

1 SoftBank thing: We didn't get the usual artful presentation slides this time, but Son still managed to deliver a dose of grandeur when he dubbed SoftBank a "vision capitalist" instead of simply a returns-driven investor like everyone else.

Go deeper: China's homegrown techlash

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