Nov 5, 2018

SoftBank CEO: We can't "turn our backs on the Saudi people"

SoftBank chairman and CEO Masayoshi Son. Photo: Alessandro Di Ciommo/NurPhoto via Getty Images

SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son today described the murder of Jamal Khashoggi as an "act against humanity," but added that SoftBank "cannot turn our backs on the Saudi people as we work to help them in their continued efforts to reform and modernize their society."

Why it matters: SoftBank took a $45 billion investment from the Saudi government for its $100 billion Vision Fund, which has backed such U.S. companies as Uber and WeWork.

  • For the six months ending on Sept. 30, the Vision Fund saw gains (realized and unrealized) of ¥648.8 billion ($5.7 billion), a 233.8% increase from a year ago.

Masa Son's full remarks (via live interpreter):

We were deeply saddened by the news of Mr. Khashoggi’s murder and condemn this act against humanity and also journalism and free speech. This was a horrific and deeply regrettable act. Therefore we have raised our concerns with the party and we believe that this should not have happened.
The other day there was an event held by Saudi Arabia, and I did not participate in the conference and I cancelled the participation. However I did visit Saudi Arabia and the reason is because I wanted to meet directly with senior Saudi officials and wanted to raise our concerns with them. We want to see those responsible held accountable.
At the same time, we have also accepted the responsibility to the people of Saudi Arabia, an obligation we take quite seriously to help them manage their financial resources and diversify their economy. As horrible as this event was, we cannot turn our backs on the Saudi people as we work to help them in their continued efforts to reform and modernize their society. So we hope to see those responsible held accountable.

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