business

SoftBank Group profit plunges; Son admits 'poor' decisions

28 Comments
By Kazuhiro Nogi

Japanese giant SoftBank Group said Wednesday suffered an operating loss of 704.4 billion yen in the second quarter that ended Sept 30, the worst in its history, taking a hit from investments in start-ups including WeWork and Uber.

"This is the biggest quarterly loss we have seen since our founding," CEO Masayoshi Son said at a press conference shortly after the figures were released.

The firm said first-half operating losses from its Vision Fund and Delta Fund came to 572.6 billion yen, largely "due to a decrease in the fair values of investments including Uber and WeWork and its three affiliates".

Net profit in the six months to September sank 49.8 percent to 421.6 billion yen on an operating loss of 15.6 billion yen.

"My investment decisions were in many ways poor. I regret them deeply," Son said.

But he defended his overall strategy, including continuing to plough funds into troubled office-sharing start-up WeWork, and insisted shareholder value continues to increase.

And some analysts said the results were "not so desperately bad."

"How you react to these three-month figures would depend on your investment style, whether you trade over short periods of time or invest for the longer term," Seiichi Suzuki, senior market analyst at Tokai Tokyo Research Institute, told AFP.

"It's difficult to make a quick verdict on its business model," he added.

The company did not publish its outlook for the year to March 2020, but uncertain roads lie ahead as shares in its key investments such as Uber and Slack continue to slide.

Son has faced renewed scrutiny of his investment acumen in the wake of WeWork's dramatic fall from grace.

Last month, SoftBank confirmed that it was injecting billions of dollars into WeWork, once hailed as a shining unicorn valued at $47 billion at the start of the year.

Son said SoftBank did not share the market's view of WeWork as a "sinking ship".

The start-up has gone from an investor darling to cancelling its IPO and seeing its co-founder Adam Neumann pushed out, albeit with a reported package of more than $1.5 billion.

Under the agreement announced last month, SoftBank will increase its stake in WeWork from 29 percent to around 80 percent, and put top executive Marcelo Claure in place as executive chairman of the start-up's board.

WeWork, which launched in 2010, has touted its model as revolutionising commercial real estate by offering shared, flexible workspace arrangements, and has operations in 111 cities in 29 countries.

In some cities, it is one of the major landlords, but its model of offering flexible, short-term leases is viewed by some as less of a selling point and more of a liability for investors.

SoftBank has gradually transformed from its start in software into a technology investor, taking stakes in some of Silicon Valley's hottest start-up through its $100 billion Vision Fund.

In July, the firm announced its long-mooted Vision Fund 2, again targeting funds of around $100 billion, but investors have been slower to commit.

And in recent months, Son's once-vaunted investment strategy has been questioned, with the disappointing IPO in May of one of its marquee names Uber only compounding the criticism.

© 2019 AFP

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

28 Comments
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Personally speaking I can not see how "We Work" will be anything more than a niche market here in Japan.

The very locations of where these offices need to be set up creates overhead costs that are exorbitantly high and the people who would be using these spaces can not afford the money to utilize them.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

plenty of assets to sell (baseball team, new acquisitions in America) if you really were hurting. No sympathy. This si what happens when companies branch out too much and do not stick to what made them profitable.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

This is what happens when companies can access ‘easy money’

Son has been duped or is part of a conspiracy- not sure which though, most likely the former.

Still, someone has walked away with a huge bundle!

0 ( +4 / -4 )

It's 1997, 2001 again, people investing in potential rather than facts.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

Not a surprise. Softbank is looking for ways to gain profitability in very competitive markets. Then it sunk money into WeWork and bailed them out. Uber investment is a victim of circumstances. Uber's employment practices are under fire and they are now forced to shell out more money which is hurting their profitability.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

My local SoftBank is is huge with around 20 staff. However, I went there twice over the long weekend and was told on both occasions there was a 90 minute wait to speak with someone. I looked at the info screen and there were only 4 people in front of me both times. At least half of the staff were standing around talking to each other. I looked around the shop and only saw five other people being attended to and the four other people waiting. If Son really wants to know where his money has gone, he should look into the efficiency of the service coz waiting 90 minutes with half of the staff doing nothing is absurd!!!

10 ( +13 / -3 )

DisillusionedToday 07:35 am JST

My local SoftBank is is huge with around 20 staff. However, I went there twice over the long weekend and was told on both occasions there was a 90 minute wait to speak with someone. I looked at the info screen and there were only 4 people in front of me both times. At least half of the staff were standing around talking to each other. I looked around the shop and only saw five other people being attended to and the four other people waiting. If Son really wants to know where his money has gone, he should look into the efficiency of the service coz waiting 90 minutes with half of the staff doing nothing is absurd!!!

I've had similar experiences. Many people I know have had bad experiences there too. No sympathy for this jerk

3 ( +7 / -4 )

Serves him right for taking all that Saudi Arabian blood money.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

Softbank is a rip off.Just calculate how much money you pay them per year x all the years you've lived in Japan.You could buy a used house somewhere in the countryside in Japan.

I did the math and their services were sickening..I dumped them plus most people around that I know did the same..and now I have better rates..under 2500 yen a month and first class services without waiting forever for poor service.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

"people investing in potential rather than facts."

Well, Masayoshi Son is, not "people." As one pundit said, "Silicon Valley is not suffering from a tech bubble, but from a Softbank bubble."

0 ( +0 / -0 )

One person doesn't not make a business, large or small.

It is the staff, employees that make the difference between profit and loss.

CEO Masayoshi Son just does not get it at all.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

@Yubaru

Personally speaking I can not see how "We Work" will be anything more than a niche market here in Japan.

Indeed, WeWork is a realtor for high-tech start-ups.

Japan doesn't have many high-tech start-ups.

WeWork under Son needs to pull out of markets with little high-tech start-up activities, such as Japan.

-7 ( +3 / -10 )

DisillusionedToday  07:35 am JST

My local SoftBank is is huge with around 20 staff. However, I went there twice over the long weekend and was told on both occasions there was a 90 minute wait to speak with someone. I looked at the info screen and there were only 4 people in front of me both times. At least half of the staff were standing around talking to each other. I looked around the shop and only saw five other people being attended to and the four other people waiting. If Son really wants to know where his money has gone, he should look into the efficiency of the servi

Shhh. Can't tell a lot of peolle here that. Many think this only happens in foreign places and you can't say otherwise. Maybe those staff doing nothing were actually monitoring wait times and collecting that data in order to improve service.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Well I can tell you this, I am not going to criticize him or give him financial advice because he is a billionaire and I am just a thousandaire.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

"cancelling its IPO and seeing its co-founder Adam Neumann pushed out, albeit with a reported package of more than $1.5 billion."

I'm obviously in the wrong business...

5 ( +5 / -0 )

If it cost $1.5 Billion to get rid of Neumann, how much will it cost to get rid of Son?

5 ( +5 / -0 )

It will cost us all, as this is not his money.

If you read the recent report by Bank Of Japan (BOJ) the economic situation of Japan comes close to the one from the peak time of bubble economy.

Softbank money comes from BOJ and to bail SoftBank it will cost the taxpayers. Probably they will change the monetary system, as ageing population of Japan won't be able to do revolution (old people are more obedient) or fight against new policies.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

yes indeed , Softbank money comes from BOJ.

japan is printing fake money and give it to Japanese companies.

so basically japan is buying foreign companies with fake cash .(money laundering)

Obviously BOJ is above the law.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Yes well, the investments originates from hedge funds and speculative banking, and possibly corporate pension funds.

The tax payer could ensue responsibility, if a bailout is necessary, is it tough?

Take a closer look at the investors..........

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Net profit in the six months to September sank 49.8 percent to 421.6 billion yen on an operating loss of 15.6 billion yen.

Yet they are still "bitching" about making 421.6 BILLION YEN!

3 ( +3 / -0 )

"My investment decisions were in many ways poor. I regret them deeply,"

Son will still be a rich man and remains a CEO, Now many workers on the bottom of the chain and investors will pay for his poor decisions.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Despite being financially wealthy, Son appears to be a wannabe. These acquisitions of international companies and investing in startups is more about ego and less about smart decision-making. He wants to be like Elon Musk, Bill Gates, and etc.

He needs to stay the big fish in his little pond.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Softbank have no corporate social responsibilities. They run an immoral business. Investing in business relations with Saudi Arabia and part of the cartel that have been ripping-off mobile phone consumers in Japan. Ever been to a Softbank store for customer service? I have no sympathy.

Remember when the iPhone first arrived in Japan? He cornered the market as the only provider for ages. For a man who became so rich from a business that provides such poor customer service I hope he falls.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I believe Uber will never make money for Softbank.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I believe Uber will never make money for Softbank.

I agree, at least not here in Japan. However I do think there is a need for ride services, just NOT in the large metropolitan areas, out in the "inaka", where a hell of a lot of elderly live!

Someone might be able to make a living being a driver for some small villages.

Yet because it's too small, Uber wont be interested!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

This is the problem with Japan, Son San was big enough to take the blame, atleast, he admitted his problem although , every one can see it. To admit a problem in Japan shows that Son san is a big man. I know of people who set up others, when there are losses and took the credits when there was profits. Son san is Korean, U cannot expect this kind of action from any Japanese men.I am here for 32 years living and working in Japan.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Softbank group is the effect to the real problem that money/investment is concentrated in too few hands. I added an interesting read for those that are interested in investment capital topics.

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/world-has-gone-mad-system-broken-ray-dalio/

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

@Justmythoughts

"...the real problem that money/investment is concentrated in too few hands."

No, the real problem is Masayoshi Son and his Saudi-funded Viision Fund. The fund is larger than the rest of the entire venture capital business, and Son is extremely reckless and incompetent with his Mideast oil money.

I added an interesting read....

Ray Dalio's hedge fund has long been underperforming the stock market. In other words, his weathly clients have been paying him tons of fees in return for inferior returns. He's been busy recently covering his **s, spinning the cynical narrative that the problem is the world and not his rip-off hedge fund.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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