Oct 23, 2018

SoftBank CEO won't speak at "Davos in the Desert"

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

SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son will not speak at the Future Investment Initiative event in Riyadh, which kicked off earlier today, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Why it matters: Nearly half of SoftBank's $100 billion Vision Fund comes from Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund, and expectations are the same would be true for a second Vision Fund.

  • Masa's decision comes after more than a week of SoftBank "monitoring" the situation, while most other big business leaders pulled out much earlier over the murder of Jamal Khashoggi.
  • SoftBank COO Marcelo Claure and the CEO of British chipmaker Arm, owned by SoftBank, also both bailed yesterday.

But, but, but: Still no official statement nor confirmation from SoftBank, and that same WSJ story cites an event spokesman as saying that Masa "may still attend the Future Investment Initiative on the sidelines." Plus, Vision Fund's Saleh Romeih did speak on stage today as part of a panel discussion.

The bottom line: Masa and SoftBank have developed a reputation for being bold. In this case, they've been timid.

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