On Friday, SoftBank announced its second private investment fund which will be raising $108 billion. This fund called SoftBank Vision Fund 2 (SVF-2) will be investing in companies focused on AI technology.
Apart from SoftBank, other notable participants are Apple, Foxconn and Microsoft Corporation. Other investors, as per SoftBank’s press release, include Mizuho Bank, Ltd., Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation, MUFG Bank, Ltd., The Dai-ichi Life Insurance Company, Limited, Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Bank, Limited, SMBC Nikko Securities Inc., Daiwa Securities Group Inc., National Investment Corporation of National Bank of Kazakhstan, Standard Chartered Bank, and major participants from Taiwan.
In 2017, SoftBank partnered with the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia to create the Softbank Vision Fund 1 (SVF-1) which was then the world’s largest private equity fund. Vision Fund 1 raised around $100 billion in which Saudi’s contribution was $45 billion while SoftBank invested $28 billion. Other investors included Mubadala Investment Co., Qualcomm Inc., and Sharp Corp.
But unlike the last Vision Fund, Saudi Arabia’s PIF wouldn’t be a participant in Vision Fund 2. SoftBank will be the prime investor this time with a contribution of $38 billion in the fund. Yet there’s a possibility that both might participate in the fund. A SoftBank spokesman told Bloomberg that the company is still in talks with Saudi Arabia’s PIF and Mubadala Investment Co. about possible investments.
Since Saudi’s Crown Prince was accused of the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, investors have been concerned over the participation of Saudi in the fund. Since then the US press and senate have been pressing the issue. Chris Lane, an analyst with Sanford C. Bernstein & Co, told Bloomberg, “I think it was a conscious decision by Softbank to decrease the influence of the Saudis.”
SoftBank has invested in 82 leading companies through Vision Fund 1 including PayTM, Flipkart, WeWork, Slack, Fanatics, Nvidia and Uber among others. It invested $9 billion in Uber in late 2017. It became Uber’s biggest stakeholder acquiring 15% stakes in the company. SoftBank invested $1.4 billion in PayTM and $2.5 billion in Flipkart, making these the company’s two largest investments in India. SoftBank’s single largest investment is in the ride-sharing segment with major investments in companies like Uber, Didi Chuxing, Ola and Grab.