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Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Someone should tell SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son he could use encrypted apps like Signal and Telegram when communicating with his lieutenants.

Driving the news: Former WeWork CEO Adam Neumann won a Delaware court motion to remove redactions on select text messages between Son and Marcelo Claure, the SoftBank COO and WeWork executive chairman, as part of his lawsuit against SoftBank for bailing on its $3 billion tender offer for WeWork shares.

  • The vast majority of tender proceeds would have gone to Neumann and WeWork investor Benchmark, which also is suing SoftBank.

The most explosive message was related to SoftBank's desire to delay the $3 billion payable in the tender by one month, which SoftBank had blamed on regulatory approval delays.

  • Son texted Claure: "It’s great to postpone the close of tender... Use whatever excuse to make senses [sic]."
  • Claure replied: "Ok. Will use antitrust. I am turning good at excuses like someone I know very well :)"

Another series of communication relates to WeWork's planned consolidation of its joint venture in China.

  • SoftBank had claimed that WeWork's inability to close that transaction was one of the reasons it didn't complete the tender.
  • But, the documents suggest that SoftBank was okay scuttling that deal because it instead devised a way to "gobble up" part of the $3 billion tender, thus making it economically whole on China.

Neumann's lawyers also continue to request 17,000 pages of additional "withheld documents."

What SoftBank spox is saying: “Cherry-picking quotes from documents doesn’t change the facts: under the terms of our agreement, SoftBank had no obligation to complete the tender offer in which Mr. Neumann — the biggest beneficiary —  sought to sell nearly $1 billion in stock.”

What Neumann spox is saying: No comment.

The bottom line: SoftBank may win the legal argument that it was allowed to bail on the tender for any reason it wanted, and no one is crying for Neumann. But these new disclosures seem to reflect intentional deception, which could cost SoftBank future business.

Go deeper

SoftBank says it's back

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

SoftBank Vision Fund posted a nearly $18 billion operating loss for the fiscal year ended in March, and wrote down about 75% of its WeWork investment — but who cares if it managed overall gains of $9.6 billion, right? At least, that's the message SoftBank execs are expected to deliver to investors later today in a briefing focused on the two Vision Funds, according to a source familiar with the fund.

Why it matters: SoftBank famously raised about $100 billion in 2017 to back big tech unicorns, but disappointing bets like WeWork and Brandless raised questions about Vision Fund's, well, vision.

Republicans threaten to shut down government over vaccine mandates

Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) in the Capitol in November 2020. Photo: Joshua Roberts/Getty Images

Conservative Republicans in the House and Senate are planning to force a government shutdown Friday to deny funding needed to enforce the Biden administration's vaccine mandates on the private sector, according to Politico.

Why it matters: Congress has until the end of the week to pass a stopgap measure to extend funding into 2022, though objection from a small group of Republicans could shut down the government.

Electric car prices could go up before they come down

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The secret to affordable electric vehicles is cheaper batteries. But after years of falling prices, battery costs are now headed in the wrong direction.

Why it matters: Costlier batteries could drive up the price of electric vehicles — threatening the auto industry's transition away from fossil fuels, and, in turn, society's fight against climate change.

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