Mar 3, 2020 - Economy & Business

Softbank CEO looks to quell investor nerves

SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son. Photo: Tomohiro Ohsumi/Getty Images

SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son on Monday promised institutional investors that he'll do a better job of listening to their concerns, but stopped well short of saying that they'll change his mind.

The state of play: Son was "interviewed" by Goldman Sachs investment banking co-head Dan Dees, at a private event in New York.

  • It was planned before Elliott Management took over a multi-billion dollar stake in SoftBank, and began pushing for stock buyback, greater transparency and fewer private company investments until outside capital is secured for Vision Fund 2.
  • The goal was to calm investor nerves, particularly in the wake of WeWork.

Son didn't commit to following any of Elliott's proposals, but did express some past fondness for buybacks and a willingness to add more independent directors, per sources in the room.

  • He also reiterated recent comments about how it could be at least another year until Vision Fund 2 holds a first close, with intervening investments to be funded by the firm itself (and Vision Fund partners).
  • He also took a playful poke at critics, by noting internal resistance to his original investment in Alibaba.

The bottom line: Son appears bowed but not broken. Likely because he's one of the few investors who rode the dotcom train from boom to bust and back again. He plans to keep doing things his way, buttressed by a few cosmetic concessions.

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Softbank threatens to pull the plug on WeWork bailout

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SoftBank yesterday threatened to pull the plug on its $3 billion tender offer for shares of WeWork, which was agreed to last fall and scheduled to close on April 1.

What’s happening: The formal message sent to investors is that SoftBank believes several deal conditions may not be satisfied, including the closing of a recapitalization of its Chinese joint venture, anti-trust approvals, and the emergence of a governmental investigation into company finances.

Scoop: WeWork tells employees that press is "mischaracterizing" SoftBank plans

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WeWork on Wednesday told employees that the company has plenty of access to capital and that it will keep its co-working buildings open so that its members can keep their own businesses running, according to an internal memo obtained by Axios.

The big picture: This comes after reports that WeWork's largest shareholder may bail on a $3 billion tender offer it had agreed to last fall, and as the coronavirus pandemic has made co-working less palatable to those seeking to follow social distancing recommendations.

Jack Dorsey to remain as Twitter CEO after deal with Elliott Management and Silver Lake

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey. Photo: David Becker/Getty Images

Twitter announced Monday that it struck a deal with investment firms Silver Lake and Elliott Management that will allow CEO Jack Dorsey to remain in his position.

Between the lines, via Axios' Dan Primack: With the agreement, activist investor Elliott may get what it wants in terms of a higher short-term share price, but it does nothing to satisfy its original complaint about Twitter needing a full-time CEO.