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Photo Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: David A. Grogan/CNBC/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

Activist investor Elliott Management has acquired around a $2.5 billion stake in SoftBank Group, saying the market "significantly undervalues" the Japanese group's assets.

The state of play: So far the relationship appears to be friendly, but Elliott isn't shy about getting into the mud if that's where it feels the most profit lies.

  • Singer vs. Son would be the investment world's version of Ali-Frazier.

Why it matters: Sources say that Elliott wants SoftBank to buy back around $20 billion worth of its stock, believing it trades at around a 60% discount to net asset value.

  • This puts pressure on SoftBank to partially liquidate its larger holdings, such as its 25% stake in Alibaba Group.
  • It also could slow Vision Fund 2 investments until SoftBank holds at least a first close on third-party commitments (or has enough Vision Fund 1 proceeds to recycle). In short, Elliott would prefer SoftBank spend its balance sheet cash on stock buybacks, not on private company investments.

What Elliott is saying: "Elliott has engaged privately with SoftBank’s leadership and is working constructively on solutions to help SoftBank materially and sustainably reduce its discount to intrinsic value."

What SoftBank is saying: "SoftBank always maintains constructive discussions with shareholders regarding their views on the Company and we are in complete agreement that our shares are deeply undervalued by public investors. SoftBank welcomes feedback from fellow shareholders."

  • This is the largest investment Elliott has ever made in a Japanese company.
  • Elliott bought at a particularly tricky moment for SoftBank. Not only because of questions surrounding Vision Fund 2, but also because its planned Sprint sale rests in the hands of a U.S. court.
  • SoftBank's market cap rose from around $89 billion to $95 billion on the news.

The big question is how an activist hedge fund, which thinks in months and years, deals with a company that claims to think in centuries.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
2 hours ago - Technology

Facebook's scandals have been great for shareholders

Expand chart
Data: YCharts; Chart: Axios

Facebook has been embroiled in scandal for the past five years, and while the specific allegations change over time, a central theme is constant. Given the choice between commercial and moral imperatives, Facebook always seems to choose the option that is best for the share price.

Why it matters: Facebook's stock chart supports that narrative. Since the 2016 scandals alleging that the social network was infiltrated by foreign actors trying to influence the outcome of democratic elections, Facebook's revenues — and its stock — have been soaring.

Biden to tap telecom trio for NTIA, FCC posts

Jessica Rosenworcel. Photo: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call

President Joe Biden on Tuesday is expected to name Alan Davidson as head of the telecom arm of the Commerce Department, Jessica Rosenworcel as chairwoman of the Federal Communications Commission and Gigi Sohn as a commissioner at the FCC, according to a person familiar with the process.

Why it matters: Internet availability and affordability has been a key policy priority for the White House, but the administration lagged in tapping people for the agency posts that oversee the issues.

3 hours ago - Technology

Facebook seeks fountain of youth

Data: Piper Sandler Taking Stock With Teens Study; Chart: Axios Visuals

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Monday said that the company is pivoting its strategy to focus on young adults, following reports that teens have fled its apps.

Why it matters: A series of stories based on leaked whistleblower documents suggest the company sees the aging of its user base as an existential threat to its business.