Let’s go back one year, to the start of the COVID 19 pandemic. Back then, the future of SoftBank- one of the biggest conglomerates in the world, was shrouded in mystery. Business was struggling, and investments (including the Vision Fund) had brought the Masayoshi Son led company to its knees. Fast forward to today, and SoftBank has posted the biggest quarterly profit by a Japanese company in history. Phew, what a ride!
SoftBank recorded a profit of 1.93 trillion yen ($17.7 billion) for the quarter ending in March, a feat that has surprised everyone in the business world, and those covering it, like myself.
And the star of the show? Vision Fund. Yes, the same Vision Fund that had become the anchor tied to SoftBank’s sinking ship. The Fund itself posted a massive 2.3 trillion yen profit, a sentence that must be music to Masayoshi Son’s ears.
With investments in the likes of WeWork and even Uber- companies that were struggling to create profits, the Fund had led to a massive breakdown of the entire SoftBank foundation just over an year ago. Then, the bad faith in the market that was created by the whole legal fiasco with WeWork had let to many believing that SoftBank might never become as big as it once was.
Well, it’s made a surprise comeback. However, this does not mean that this return to glory was unfathomable. Vision Fund is geared towards tech companies, and as we all know, one of the only sectors that has bloomed over the last year is tech.
Portfolio companies recorded unprecedented growth rates. SoftBank holds $6.2 billion investment in Amazon.com Inc., $3.2 billion in Facebook Inc. and $1 billion in Microsoft Corp, all of which have seen business grow exponentially over the last year. Moreover, IPOs from the likes of Coupang (which was worth $4.6 billion, by the way) and Auto1 Group SE-a used car platform (bringing in $1.8 billion for SoftBank) helped the Japanese giant sustain growth over the quarter.
This, along with the damage control initiated by Son with him buying back $23 billion of his own shares, has resulted in SoftBank getting back on its feet.
SoftBank is hoping to see about 10 to 20 IPOs this year, including that of Grab Holdings Inc. in USA and the Chinese ride hailing service Didi Chuxing.
While all of this is great, if it goes according to plan, it might also become a problem for Son if the IPO plans fail. Moreover, while the company’s problems may have rescinded for a short while, they have not been resolved. Thus, many worry if this return is just temporary.