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From: Glenn Petersen9/22/2017 8:16:32 PM
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This would be a huge deal for Softbank. Its 80% interest in Sprint is currently worth $27.2 billion, equal to 30.6% of Softbank's $88.9 billion market cap.

Exclusive: T-Mobile, Sprint close to agreeing on deal terms - sources

September 22, 2017 / 6:23 AM

(Reuters) - T-Mobile US Inc ( TMUS.O) is close to agreeing tentative terms on a deal to merge with Sprint Corp ( S.N), people familiar with the matter said on Friday, a major breakthrough in efforts to merge the third and fourth largest U.S. wireless carriers.

The transaction would significantly consolidate the U.S. telecommunications market and represent the first transformative U.S. merger with significant antitrust risk to be agreed since the inauguration of U.S. President Donald Trump in January.

The progress toward a deal also indicates that T-Mobile and Sprint believe that the U.S. antitrust enforcement environment has become more favorable since the companies abandoned their previous effort to combine in 2014 amid regulatory concerns.

The latest development in the talks between T-Mobile and Sprint comes as the telecommunications sector seeks ways to tackle investments in 5G technology that will greatly enhance wireless data transfer speeds.

Japan’s SoftBank Group Corp ( 9984.T), which controls Sprint, and other Sprint shareholders will own 40 to 50 percent of the combined company, while T-Mobile majority owner Deutsche Telekom ( DTEGn.DE) and the rest of T-Mobile shareholders will own the majority, the sources said.

SoftBank founder Masayoshi Son met with Trump late last year and said in February that the Japanese firm should benefit from Trump’s promised deregulation.

Once terms are finalized, due diligence by the two companies will follow and a deal is expected by the end of October, though talks may still fall through, the sources said.

A merger would create a business with more than 130 million subscribers, just behind Verizon Communications Inc ( VZ.N) and AT&T Inc ( T.N). Revenues would top $70 billion and analysts say there would be massive scope to cut costs.

Sprint shares were up 5 percent in afternoon trading in New York on Friday to $8.44, giving the company a market capitalization of close to $34 billion. T-Mobile shares were up 0.4 percent to $63.66, giving that company a market capitalization of around $53 billion.

The sources asked not to be identified because the negotiations are confidential. Sprint and Deutsche Telekom declined to comment. T-Mobile and SoftBank did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

SoftBank’s Son abandoned an earlier attempt to acquire T-Mobile for Sprint in 2014. Under that deal, SoftBank would have been in control of the merged company, with Deutsche Telekom becoming a minority shareholder.

Smartphones with the logos of T-Mobile and Sprint are seen in this illustration taken September 19, 2017. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

Since then, T-Mobile has outperformed Sprint under Chief Executive John Legere, who the sources said would lead the combined company.


Earlier this month, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai gave a potential boost to a tie-up when he recommended that the FCC find for the first since 2009 that there is “effective competition in the marketplace for mobile wireless services.”

The FCC is set to vote on Tuesday on the proposed annual report on the state of the wireless competition market required by U.S. Congress.

T-Mobile and Sprint will likely tout planned investments in 5G and their network that would create jobs, though combining operations would also lead to layoffs, said Roger Entner, an analyst at Recon Analytics.

“They will argue that the track record of T-Mobile and Sprint shows they are vigorous competitors and that this will not cease to be the case after the deal,” said Entner.

Son made headlines in early December when he appeared in the marble lobby of Trump Tower in New York alongside the president-elect, dressed in a red vest and red tie nearly identical to that of the tycoon turned commander in chief.

He was among the first in a series of Asian billionaires and leaders to pay a congratulatory visit to Trump, who won office in November on a platform that focused on national security and protecting U.S. jobs.

Son’s pledge to Trump to invest $50 billion in the United States and create 50,000 jobs was light on details but spoke to the president’s election promise to boost economic growth by making deals with individual companies, rather than through complicated trade deals.

Last month, Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure said an announcement on merger talks should come in the “near future.”

Sprint had approached cable company Charter Communications Inc ( CHTR.O) about a potential merger earlier this year, but quickly abandoned that effort.

AT&T is in the process of getting its own transformative deal, its $85.4 billion acquisition of media conglomerate Time Warner Inc ( TWX.N) approved by U.S. regulators.

Reporting by Greg Roumeliotis in New York and Arno Schuetze in Frankfurt; Additional reporting by Pamela Barbaglia in London, Douglas Busvine in Frankfurt, David Shepardson in Washington; Writing by Douglas Busvine; Editing by Bernadette Baum and Meredith Mazzilli

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From: Glenn Petersen9/24/2017 4:06:37 PM
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SoftBank's Masayoshi Son breaks the mold of conservative Japanese investors
  • SoftBank has invested billions into tech companies in recent years
  • Its founder, Masayoshi Son, is placing bets on the future by investing in companies that are doing work in areas of Internet of Things, artificial intelligence and robotics
  • The Japanese tech titan is also invested in top players in proven industries such as e-commerce and ride-sharing

Saheli Roy Choudhury | @sahelirc
Published 3:02 AM ET Mon, 21 Aug 2017 Updated 12:29 AM ET Tue, 22 Aug 2017

SoftBank founder Masayoshi Son is not just the wealthiest man in Japan. He's not just a tech titan boasting billions of dollars worth of investments in some of the most important companies of our age.

Son is his country's lone mold-breaking entrepreneur.

Alessandro Di Ciommo | NurPhoto | Getty Images
SoftBank Group Corp. founder, Chairman and CEO Masayoshi Son.

Decision-makers in Japan are usually fiscally conservative, whereas under Son, SoftBank appears to be making regular multi-million dollar, or in some cases multi-billion dollar, investments into various companies — some of which are not directly related to SoftBank's core money-making businesses.

"He's doing something that is incredibly unique from the Japanese perspective," said Jesper Koll, head of Japan at WisdomTree. "It's sad to watch that he's the only Japanese entrepreneur who is creating the new frontier (in tech)."

While new technological advances have become a constant source of disruption for established corporations, smart companies are keeping up by either plowing money into research and development or into investments and acquisitions. SoftBank, with Son at the helm, is doing both.

Betting on the top players

SoftBank's core businesses are telecommunications — within Japan and through its controlling stake in Sprint — but it also draws in revenue from other technology businesses.

The Japanese tech giant has made a number of prominent investments recently, including last year's acquisition of U.K.-based chip maker ARM for $32 billion, a $4 billion stake in U.S. chip maker Nvidia this year, and a newly announced $2.5 billion boost to Indian e-commerce player Flipkart.

That last stake comes from the massive SoftBank-led Vision Fund while existing investments in Nvidia and ARM are expected to also be offered to the fund.

The Vision Fund includes capital from SoftBank, Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund and tech firms Apple, Foxconn, Qualcomm and Sharp. In May, the fund announced it had closed $93 billion in capital and that it hopes to raise $100 billion by the end of the year.

Even beyond that, SoftBank also has many investments separate from the Vision Fund. For example, it acquired a controlling stake in U.S. telecommunications firm Sprint for about $36 billion between 2012 and 2013. Son was also an early investor in Yahoo and Alibaba, when the latter's valuation was below $100 million according to investors.

Dealogic data, which includes investments by the Vision Fund, showed that between 2012 and August of this year SoftBank announced 383 deals worth approximately $125.76 billion.

All those deals fall into one of two categories: cutting-edge technologies or tech companies that are already number one or number two in their category.

"They know if they consistently invest in capital leaders in a disruptive category, the upside is humongous," Hans Tung, managing partner at GGV Capital, told CNBC. He explained, "They're good at investing in ideas that're proven in a developed market, but they want to invest in local competitors that are number one in emerging markets."

For example, in the ride-hailing market, SoftBank is already invested in southeast Asia's top player, Grab, and India's leading local player, Ola. Recently, SoftBank said it would be interested in putting money into either Uber or Lyft, the leading ride-hailing players in the U.S.

Occasionally SoftBank invests in the number two company in a specific industry and then aims for a merger with the top player, said Tung. That was the case in China's leading ride-hailing player Didi Chuxing. The company formed from a merger between Didi Dache and SoftBank-backed Kuaidi Dache.

While telecommunications — both domestic and the Sprint business in the U.S. — constitutes a sizable portion of SoftBank's revenue, analysts say the company doesn't see itself as a telecom business.

"SoftBank does not consider themselves to be a telecom business but they like the cash flow and see it as a tool to advance their tech ambitions," Kirk Boodry, a Singapore-based analyst at New Street Research, told CNBC. He added that if SoftBank thinks wireless values are high, it might even sell the Sprint business.

"We think SoftBank wants to be represented across the value chain," said Boodry.

Planning ahead

Son, who founded SoftBank in the 1980s, has grand visions of what technological advancements the future holds. And he prefers to chart his course with mid-to-long term plans to achieve certain targets. At 19, the story goes, he created a 50-year life plan for his entrepreneurial ambition, setting himself targets for each decade to build up SoftBank into the tech giant that it is today. He also created a 300-year plan for it to continue growing as a corporation.

In 2010, Son presented a 30-year plan for the company, where the key theme was "Information Revolution" and the emphasis was on using new technologies to push the boundaries of science in areas like telepathic communications and increasing life expectancy to 200 years.

While those goals may still be far off from being realized, SoftBank's subsidiaries, as well as companies in which it's invested, are pushing the frontiers of technology in areas such as the "Internet of Things," artificial intelligence and deep learning.

Everett Rosenfeld | CNBC

For example, SoftBank Robotics created Pepper — a robot capable of reading emotions and interacting with human beings — and teamed up with Alibaba and Foxconn to bring it to global markets.

In July, SoftBank was part of a group of companies that invested $159 million into U.S. car technology start-up Nauto. The Palo Alto, California-based company makes cameras that can track driver behavior in real time and know if they are distracted.

Meanwhile, SoftBank also holds a stake in Chinese ride-hailing company Didi Chuxing, which is looking at artificial intelligence in security and intelligent driving technologies in a new research lab in Silicon Valley.

Given how rapidly technology is shaking up the industry, no one knows what the next business model is going to be — something, Son is trying to discover, Koll said.

That said, Son's ambition nearly came to an abrupt end during the dotcom bust in the early 2000s. A CNN report said he lost $70 billion in one day and admitted that 99 percent of his net worth was wiped out in 2000.

Funding its vision for the future

The massive Vision Fund, which was first announced in 2016, in part aims to realize Son's vision of the future. It makes long-term investments in companies operating in technology such as the "Internet of Things," artificial intelligence, robotics, mobile applications, consumer internet businesses and more. SoftBank has committed to invest $28 billion into the fund through a combination of equity in ARM and cash on hand.

SoftBank's Masa Son: Interested in Lyft or Uber 11:57 AM ET Mon, 7 Aug 2017 | 01:55

"Creation of the Vision Fund should be positive for SoftBank shareholders. It separates some of the risk from the investment program into a separate non-recourse entity," said Boodry.

But some investors have questioned whether SoftBank might be fueling a new valuation bubble in tech.

"In general, Son-san has a good investing track record so he should be do well," said Boodry.

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From: Glenn Petersen9/25/2017 3:57:12 PM
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The Link Between SoftBank, Alzheimer's and Data

By Giles Turner and Jared S Hopkins
September 25, 2017

Hi, it’s Giles from Europe, and Jared from our U.S. health team. We’re going to talk about SoftBank.

We know, We know. Enough already with SoftBank. But bear with us. Because this time it’s not about Uber or WeWork —it’s about how Alzheimer’s and data mining might give us an insight into SoftBank’s investment strategy.

At first glance, it seems as if the Japanese company doesn’t have an investment strategy for its $93 billion megafund. Its bets range from ride-hailing apps to robotics companies to instant messaging tools. This scattergun approach was underscored in late August when SoftBank led a $1.1 billion investment into pharmaceutical group Roivant Sciences Ltd. —one of the biggest-ever biotech investments.

Roivant, founded by ex-hedge-fund partner Vivek Ramaswamy, 32, analyzes data to hunt out unwanted and unapproved drug candidates, which it develops through a range of subsidiaries such as Axovant, which focuses on neurology, Myovant (women’s health and endocrine diseases), Enzyvant (rare diseases), and Urovant ( yep, urology).

It’s crunch time for Axovant right now. Investors and the medical community are waiting to see late-stage results for its experimental Alzheimer’s treatment intepirdine, due in late September.

No drug has yet proven to significantly slow Alzheimer’s and related dementia, which affect about 45 million people in the world. In the past year, experimental drugs from Merck & Co. and Eli Lilly & Co. have joined the dozens of failures aimed at blocking the disease or slowing its progress.

Axovant is currently trading at around $25 a share. If the trial is successful, analysts at Jefferies see the stock reaching $40 to $100 a share, potentially turning a $2.7 billion clinical-stage startup into a $10 billion company.

Not everyone agrees. The trial might fail, or work modestly, and not in a way that will be a commercial or clinical boon, according to Gbola Amusa, an analyst at Chardan Capital Markets who recommends selling the shares. Amusa said in an interview that he’s discouraged partly because similar drugs were unsuccessful and intepirdine’s mid-stage data showed modest benefit.

Wait. It gets more confusing.

The investment into Roivant was led by Akshay Naheta, managing director of SoftBank Group International. Naheta was previously a hedge-fund manager and value investor —meaning he looked for companies that traded for less than their intrinsic value.

So we have former fund manager who is an expert in value investing, not pharma, leading a $1 billion bet on pharma holding group —which may or may not have a lucrative subsidiary in a few weeks’ time.

Still, there’s one piece of the puzzle missing. SoftBank sees its investment into Roivant not as a bet on Axovant, but an investment into data mining within the pharma industry. On Wednesday, Roivant announced the formal launch of its latest subsidiary Datavant, which is using AI to sift through datasets to help get drugs through the clinical trial process. Datavant has already compiled data from 85 different datasets comprising more than 20 million patient visits.

Data is SoftBank’s current dreamboat. It has invested in companies such as graphics chipmaker Nvidia and bought U.K. chipmaker ARM Holdings to tap into the growing need of companies to manage an ever-increasing flow of data.

This is what SoftBank’s investment into Roivant is really about. Not only is there the potential of some immediate short turn upside with Axovant, but if that goes wrong SoftBank is betting that Datavant will keep feeding potential drugs for its other subsidiaries to push through the clinical trial process. It’s a sort of hedge. Like investing in a range of ride sharing apps to either pick the winner or perhaps one day merge them all, or investing in semiconductor companies that in the short term are a cash cow but perhaps later on will be essential to AI.

Yes, it still seems a bit nuts, and there is plenty of intelligent skeptisicm into Roivant’s strategy, but regardless of the industry, where there is data, you may find SoftBank.

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From: Glenn Petersen9/27/2017 5:30:45 PM
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Uber-SoftBank Deal Is Said to Ensure Limits on Kalanick’s Power

By Eric Newcomer, Caroline Hyde, and Giles Turner
September 27, 2017

-- SoftBank to block any plan to make Kalanick CEO or chairman

-- Uber backer Benchmark wants guaranteed check on former CEO

SoftBank Group Corp. has overcome a major obstacle to its planned multi billion-dollar investment in Uber Technologies Inc. The Japanese firm agreed to block any attempts to elevate Travis Kalanick, Uber’s controversial former leader, back to the company’s top ranks, according to people familiar with the discussions.

Venture capital firm Benchmark, which led Kalanick’s ouster in June, has sought a guarantee in writing from SoftBank that it would reject reappointing Kalanick as chief executive officer and block his appointment as chairman of the board or head of one of its subcommittees, said the people.

There have been no public proposals like this so far, but Kalanick has privately expressed interest in helping the company in some capacity, said the people, who asked not to be identified because private negotiations are ongoing. Kalanick still retains some power over Uber through his control of three board seats, though two of those remain unfilled.

The SoftBank-led investment in Uber could be the largest private stock sale in history – or it may collapse amid continued infighting. One prospective investor in the deal, Chinese ride-hailing company Didi Chuxing, has walked away, according to people familiar with the matter.

SoftBank and private equity firms General Atlantic and Dragoneer Investment Group are still in active talks with Uber. Together, the firms expect to invest at least $1 billion in Uber at a $69 billion valuation, while buying as much as $9 billion in shares from existing investors. The valuation of those shares will be determined by an auction process that’s expected to start at about $45 billion, the people said.

SoftBank has considered asking for two board seats as part of the deal, and has mulled one of its executives, Rajeev Misra, and Sprint Corp. Chief Executive Officer Marcelo Claure as candidates, the people said. (SoftBank owns most of Sprint.) Another proposal being discussed would give SoftBank one board seat and a board observer seat. Under either proposal, it’s unclear whether Uber would create new directors or shuffle its existing eleven board seats.

A legal dispute between Benchmark, Uber’s largest venture capital backer, and Kalanick has hung over investment discussions. But Benchmark doesn’t plan to block a deal as long as the final contract guarantees not to revive Kalanick’s power and provides other governance reforms, the people said. If those conditions are met, Benchmark would sell some of its shares at the direction of Uber’s new CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, the people added.

Spokespeople for Uber, SoftBank, Benchmark and Kalanick declined to comment.

Benchmark was approached by SoftBank in June about a potential investment and met with founder Masayoshi Son in July in the Bay Area, a person familiar with the situation said. But the VC firm stalled the process once it began tangling with Kalanick. After leading his ouster, Benchmark sued Kalanick, claiming he defrauded investors to create three board seats that solidified his power. The suit is now in private arbitration.

The board is looking to appoint an independent chairman, a proposal all directors, including Kalanick and Khosrowshahi, support. That was one of a series of recommendations from Eric Holder, a former U.S. attorney general who consulted for Uber after a series of scandals.

Kalanick has told acquaintances he has no intention of trying to return as CEO, but he may someday seek a position as a strategic or operational partner to Khosrowshahi, said people who have spoken with the co-founder.

Khosrowshahi has privately indicated support for a deal with SoftBank at the right price, according to one of the people. His other priorities include allowing employees to sell stock more easily at a fair price, resolving the fight between Kalanick and Benchmark, and leveling the playing field between shareholders with super-voting stock and those without.

Benchmark, which holds stock with outsize voting power, also supports a one-shareholder-one-vote policy. The VC firm and other investors worried that SoftBank could help Kalanick retake the reins through the purchase of super-voting shares, the people said.

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From: Glenn Petersen9/27/2017 9:13:46 PM
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From: Glenn Petersen9/27/2017 9:22:52 PM
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More background on Masayoshi Son:

As the bubble burst, he reportedly lost $70 billion in one day. He admits that 99% of his net worth was wiped out in 2000

The 'crazy' Japanese billionaire who met Donald Trump has a 300-year plan

by Sherisse Pham @Sherisse
CNN Money
December 7, 2016: 10:52 AM ET

Masayoshi Son is not a household name in America. Yet. But the billionaire founder and CEO of Japan's SoftBank ( SFTBF) loves to make a splash and is rapidly gaining a global profile thanks to a series of big deals.

He met with Donald Trump in New York on Tuesday, after which the president-elect tweeted that "Masa" had agreed to invest $50 billion in the U.S. Son said he would pump the money into startups.

Son is obsessed with the future. During an earnings call last month, he said he wanted to be tech's Warren Buffett, and he has a 300-year plan for SoftBank ( SFTBF). Yes, 300 years.

He wants his company to help break down language barriers and allow people to communicate telepathically.

It may seem odd that a billionaire who wants to make silent communication a reality, just met with a billionaire known for loudly expressing his views at massive rallies. But not for Son.

He has a track record of meeting directly with world leaders to talk business. Last week, he chatted with Prime Minister Narendra Modi about SoftBank's $10 billion investment in India's technology sector.

In September, he called on President Park Geun-hye to talk about investing in South Korea.

Despite his ability to open doors, he hasn't always had things easy in the U.S. SoftBank paid more than $20 billion to take control of Sprint ( S) in 2012, but regulators blocked his attempt to merge the struggling mobile carrier with T-Mobile ( TMUS) in 2014.

After Tuesday's meeting, Son said he decided to back American startups because Trump had made deregulation part of his platform.

Son invented a pocket translator when he was 20. He sold it to Sharp Corporation for $1 million.

Tuesday's announcement wasn't the first deal Son has struck after a huge political shift. SoftBank bought Britain's ARM Holdings in a record $32 billion deal less than a month after the U.K. voted to leave the European Union.

" Brexit did not effect my decision," Son told reporters at the time. "I was waiting to have the cash on hand."

Early investor in Yahoo and Alibaba

But the timing of the deal meant Softbank bought a prized asset on the cheap, when the pound was down more than 27% against the yen.

SoftBank has invested in some highly-valued tech startups across the world. Among them: personal finance firm SoFi and Uber competitors Ola in India, Grab in southeast Asia and Didi Chuxing in China, according to PitchBook.

Son was one of the earliest investors in Yahoo ( YHOO, Tech30), from which he made a fortune. He also got in early on Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba ( BABA, Tech30), taking a 32% stake in the company. bust nearly wiped him out

SoftBank recently took a hit from its Sprint acquisition. But Son has lost big before. As the bubble burst, he reportedly lost $70 billion in one day. He admits that 99% of his net worth was wiped out in 2000.

His latest big venture is a $100 billion fund launched by SoftBank and the government of Saudi Arabia in October. "Life's too short" to do anything small, Son said recently in India.

An avid Tweeter

Like Trump, Son has a huge following on Twitter, and has used it to post thought provoking questions.

In 2010, Son asked his Twitter followers: "What would be the saddest thing in your life?" The most common answers were death, loneliness and despair, according to SoftBank.

In response, the company added a lofty goal to its corporate philosophy: ensuring no one is left alone. SoftBank partnered with Foxconn to make Pepper, a robot pal that learns to love people.

Son also wants to build computers that invent machines to help raise life expectancy to 200 years.

Ethnically Korean, Son was born in Kyusu, Japan. He went to college in the U.S., graduating from the University of California at Berkeley in 1980 with a degree in economics. When he was 20, he invented a pocket translator he sold to Sharp Corporation for $1 million.

Son founded SoftBank in Japan in 1981 with two part-time workers and a small office. Today, he's worth $18.7 billion, according to Forbes.

When the 59-year-old dies -- a few years from now or when he's 200 -- he has said he wants to be remembered as "a crazy guy who bet on the future."

CNNMoney (Hong Kong) First published December 7, 2016: 8:03 AM ET

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From: ProThinker9/29/2017 6:46:48 AM
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Are analysts too bullish in Softbank? Already slightly overvalued based on PE, Price to Sales and Dividend Yield.


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From: Glenn Petersen9/29/2017 11:23:49 PM
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SoftBank Plots Deals to Build $300 Billion Asset-Management Arm

By Giles Turner Caroline Hyde, and Peter Elstrom
September 29, 2017

-- Unit aims to grow to that size over next four to five years

-- Firm already has $93 billion tech fund, plus Fortress assets

SoftBank Group Corp. founder Masayoshi Son has made a name for himself building a telecommunications and technology empire. He’s now planning an expansion in asset management.

The Japanese firm is eyeing further acquisitions in the financial sector in order to potentially create a $300 billion asset management arm that would also house its $93 billion Vision Fund for technology investments, according to people familiar with the matter.

SoftBank agreed to acquire alternative-asset manager Fortress Investment Group LLC for $3.3 billion in February. Since then, SoftBank executives have discussed various investments in the financial sector, from acquiring traditional investment firms to more surprising moves including stakes in major private equity shops such as KKR & Co., said the people, who declined to comment because the plans are private.

The scale of the plans reveals how the Vision Fund will be just one arm of SoftBank’s push into asset management. SoftBank -- which had no assets under management 12 months ago, and has never before managed third-party assets -- is targeting more than $300 billion across its businesses over the next four to five years, one of the people said.

SoftBank may end up with much less or much more money in the asset management business depending on market opportunities, a different person said.

Besides the tech fund, SoftBank’s assets under management also include $40 billion with Fortress, following the U.S. firm’s sale of fixed-income arm Logan Circle Partners.

Considering TargetsIn comparison Blackstone Group LP, the world’s largest alternative-asset manager, has taken 32 years to grow to $371.1 billion under management, as of June 30.

SoftBank is considering a range of targets. A small group of senior executives informally discussed taking a stake in KKR this year, the people said. It is not known how far these discussions went.

A spokeswoman for New York-based KKR, which has a market value of about $16.4 billion, declined to comment. The investment manager oversaw $148.5 billion in private equity holdings, credit assets, real estate and hedge funds as of June 30, up 13 percent from a year earlier.

SoftBank spokesman Matthew Nicholson declined to comment.

The asset management industry is in a state of flux, with smaller players struggling due to growing pressure on fees and the continuing shift to passive strategies. Natixis SA and BNP Paribas SA are among firms exploring a deal with Axa SA’s European asset-management unit, people with knowledge of the matter have said, while Standard Life Plc has combined with Aberdeen Asset Management Plc to form the U.K’s largest active money manager.

Alternative Investments

SoftBank’s acquisition of Fortress was a departure for the company, which previously focused on deals in telecommunications, internet startups and e-commerce. However, Son and his senior executive team are keen to expand SoftBank’s ability to manage alternative investments, as well as manage the company’s ever-growing portfolio, the people said.

The giant tech-focused Vision Fund, backed by Saudi Arabia, Abu Dhabi, as well as Apple Inc. and Qualcomm Inc., has already become the world’s biggest private equity fund.

Major deals involving the Vision Fund include the $32 billion acquisition of ARM Holdings Plc, the chip designer Son believes will play a key role in the Internet of Things, and billion-dollar investments in Didi, the biggest ride-hailing service in China, and southeast Asian operator Grab.

SoftBank has been assembling an array of former bankers with strong networks in the financial sector. Colin Fan, the former equity derivatives trader and co-head of Deutsche Bank AG’s investment banking and trading unit, joined SoftBank this year, while Rajeev Misra, a former senior banker at Deutsche Bank and UBS Group AG, is the Japanese company’s head of strategic finance and a member of the fund’s investment committee.

The Vision Fund has also been staffing up with investment professionals, hiring 70 people in the front and back office over the past seven months.

The fund, headquartered in London but with offices in Tokyo and Silicon Valley, plans to finish fundraising at $100 billion in the next two months, two of the people said.

— With assistance by Devin Banerjee, Dinesh Nair, Manuel Baigorri, Ruth David, and Pavel Alpeyev

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From: Glenn Petersen10/1/2017 10:39:43 PM
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The resolution of them power struggle at Uber could determine if Softbank actually makes an investment in the company:

Inside the Latest Power Struggle at Uber

New York Times
October 1, 2017

The latest board fight at Uber is over a proposed plan that would expand the powers of the company’s new chief executive, Dara Khosrowshahi. Credit David Ryder/Bloomberg

SAN FRANCISCO — The phone calls began late Friday among Uber’s new chief executive, Dara Khosrowshahi, and the ride-hailing company’s executives, as well as board members and a raft of lawyers. They were facing an emergency.

The problem was that Travis Kalanick, Uber’s former chief executive and a board member, had appointed two new directors — Ursula Burns, the former chief executive of Xerox, and John Thain, the former chief of Merrill Lynch — to the privately held company without informing them. The moves, which pushed the nine-member board to 11 people, gave Mr. Kalanick new potential allies on major decisions at Uber.

Mr. Kalanick’s actions were “disappointing,” Mr. Khosrowshahi wrote on Friday in a letter to employees that was obtained by The New York Times. “Anyone would tell you that this is highly unusual.”

The trigger for Mr. Kalanick’s move — one made possible by a board vote last year giving him control of three seats — was a proposal that Mr. Khosrowshahi and the investment bank Goldman Sachs, an Uber shareholder, brought to the board on Thursday. The proposal, which is set to be discussed by directors on Tuesday, includes measures that would shift the power on Uber’s board by reducing Mr. Kalanick’s voting clout, expanding Mr. Khosrowshahi’s powers and imposing a 2019 deadline on the company to go public, according to three people with knowledge of the proposal who asked to remain anonymous because they were not authorized to speak publicly. Parts of the proposal were also read to The Times.

The power shift proposed by Mr. Khosrowshahi and Goldman Sachs spurred Mr. Kalanick to act to reassert control, according to a statement Mr. Kalanick issued on Friday. That has now plunged Uber into another period of uncertainty and a corporate governance crisis, at a time when the company had been trying to move beyond its controversial past with a new chief executive on board.

Uber is “attempting to copy some things that characterize good governance at a public company,” said Charles M. Elson, director of the Weinberg Center for Corporate Governance at the University of Delaware. But, he added, parts of the proposal “typically show up when you have poor management and are generally opposed by public shareholders.”

The governance plan that touched off the latest politicking was created by Mr. Khosrowshahi and Goldman Sachs as part of a bigger effort to finalize a deal to sell billions of dollars of Uber stock to the Japanese conglomerate SoftBank, according to a person briefed on the proposal.

That deal depends on the participation of some early Uber investors, who have said they will not sell their shares to SoftBank unless Uber’s governance structure changes and Mr. Kalanick is barred from returning as chief executive. Those investors include the venture capital firm Benchmark, which put money into Uber early on and has more recently been warring with Mr. Kalanick over his control of the company.

Here are some of the specifics of the proposal that Mr. Khosrowshahi and Goldman Sachs put before the board on Thursday, including details that are in flux, according to the three people briefed on the proposal and the parts of the plan that were read to The Times. Some parts of the proposal were earlier reported by Recode.

¦ According to the proposal, if the Uber board seats currently held by three directors — Ryan Graves, Arianna Huffington or Wan Ling Martello — are vacated, Mr. Khosrowshahi gains the power to nominate directors for those spots. The new directors must be approved by a majority of the board and by a majority of all shareholders.

¦ The plan also includes a proposal to remove the outsize voting power carried in two categories of Uber stock, the Class B common shares and the preferred shares. Class B common shares currently offer their holders 10 to 1 voting power, for example. But under the proposal, that would change to one vote per share. The change would diminish the power of some current shareholders, like Mr. Kalanick, as well as that of Benchmark and other venture investors.

¦ The proposal also suggests that Uber elect only a few board members each year, in effect setting a cap. That would make it hard for an activist shareholder to take over the board.

¦ One part of the proposal takes direct aim at Mr. Kalanick. The measure states that any person who has previously been an officer of Uber can return as chief executive only if he or she can get the approval of two-thirds of the board and 66.7 percent of all shareholders.

¦ The proposed plan also imposes a 2019 deadline for Uber to go public. To ensure that the public offering happens at that time, there is a provision that if more than one third, but less than one half, of the board wants an I.P.O., they can add directors until they have the control over the board they need to make the public offering happen. This provision may be dropped.

¦ The plan does allow Mr. Kalanick to keep his board seat, subject to the approval of Mr. Khosrowshahi. Of the two other board seats that Mr. Kalanick controls, one would be given to SoftBank while the other would be filled by the chief executive of a Fortune 100 company, if approved by the majority of the board and a majority vote of all shareholders. If for some reason Mr. Khosrowshahi rejected the proposed board member three times, he could designate someone for the third seat himself.

For now, most of Uber’s directors are reluctant to oppose the new board appointments of Mr. Thain and Ms. Burns made by Mr. Kalanick, according to two people who were briefed on the calls. Ms. Burns, the first African-American woman to helm a Fortune 500 company, and Mr. Thain, who also ran the New York Stock Exchange, could potentially help Uber address issues around company culture and diversity, and better prepare it to go public.

To employees, Mr. Khosrowshahi wrote: “Just know that the most important work here is the hard work you’re doing on behalf of our company. Keep focused, keep together, and keep going.”

Correction: October 1, 2017
An earlier version of this article misstated the number of members on Uber’s board. The board had nine members before the two new appointments raised it to 11; it was not an eight-member board.

Follow Katie Benner on Twitter @ktbenner and Mike Isaac @MikeIsaac.

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From: Glenn Petersen10/2/2017 4:35:36 PM
   of 5784
Softbank invests in Uber's biggest Indian rival:

India's Ola Raises $2 Billion From SoftBank, Tencent

By Saritha Rai
@SarithaRai More stories by Saritha Rai
October 2, 2017

-- Investment would help bankroll Uber’s fiercest rival in India

-- Cash influx is second-largest in country after Flipkart

Ola scored $2 billion in new funding from a group of investors including SoftBank Group Corp. and Tencent Holdings Ltd., according to a person familiar with the matter, helping to bankroll Uber Technologies Inc.’s fiercest rival in India.

Other backers in the ride-hailing startup’s latest financing round included a venture capital fund jointly run by Indian industrialist Ratan Tata and the University of California’s investment arm, as well as several U.S. institutional investors, people familiar with the deal said, asking not to be identified talking about a private deal. The company’s valuation after the financing wasn’t immediately clear.

The deal will help Ola to continue its focus on India and build both its supply of vehicles and drivers as well as strategic technology to help it win against Uber, one of the people said. The funding round isn’t finished yet and the amount could change, the person said.

Ola, whose parent is ANI Technologies Pvt., and Uber are competing in one of the world’s most attractive ride-hailing arenas. Ola currently holds the upper hand in the $10 billion Indian market but Uber has been increasing the pressure, via driver incentives and promotions targeted at its rival’s existing markets. The San Francisco-based company is ratcheting up spending in other emerging markets after ceding China to rival Didi Chuxing.

Ola didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment during a public holiday in India. A spokeswoman for SoftBank declined to comment.

Ola has received other financing but the latest cash influx marks the second-largest funding round in an Indian startup, after Flipkart Online Services Pvt., the country’s largest online retailer. The SoftBank Vision Fund and Tencent also invested a total of about $4 billion in Flipkart this year as it vies with Inc., people familiar with the matter have said.

The Ola round, which is nearing completion, already has participation from one of SoftBank’s investment arms, SIMI Holdings Inc. It wasn’t immediately clear if SoftBank’s $93 billion Vision Fund would participate. SoftBank is also considering a multibillion-dollar investment in Uber. Ola’s previous investors include Tiger Global Management, DST Global, Accel and Sequoia Capital.

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