Japan’s SoftBank Group triples net profit in first quarter

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Published: August 7, 2019 3:47:54 PM

SoftBank Group said the growth was boosted by delayed gains from its 2016 sales of shares in Alibaba, which had an impact on income of 857 billion yen.

Japan SoftBank Group, Alibaba, Masayoshi Son, Vision Fund 2, Saudi Arabia, Microsoft, appleUnder tycoon Son, SoftBank, which started as a software firm, has morphed into an investment firm, ploughing funds into a broad range of companies and projects outside its core business.

Japan’s SoftBank Group said Wednesday its first-quarter net profit more than tripled thanks to exceptional gains related to the sale of shares in Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba. The company announced net profit of 1.12 trillion yen ($10.5 billion) for the three months to June, up 257.6 percent compared to the same period a year before. “It is the first time our quarterly net profit surpassed one trillion yen,” CEO Masayoshi Son told reporters.

“It’s a remarkable performance,” he said. SoftBank Group said the growth was boosted by delayed gains from its 2016 sales of shares in Alibaba, which had an impact on income of 857 billion yen. Sales rose 2.8 percent to 2.34 trillion yen while operating profit dipped 3.7 percent to 690 billion yen.

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Under tycoon Son, SoftBank, which started as a software firm, has morphed into an investment firm, ploughing funds into a broad range of companies and projects outside its core business. Last month, the company said it would team up with tech firms including Apple and Microsoft in a new $108-billion investment fund to accelerate the “AI revolution”. Talking about the new fund, Son said on Wednesday, “I have the same feeling as when I went to mountains as a child for an adventure, searching for excitement.”

“Maybe it’s funny to say this but I feel like I’m in the middle of my youth, even though I’m physically old.” The new fund is the long-mooted successor to its mammoth Saudi-backed Vision Fund, which has taken stakes in leading tech start-ups from Uber to WeWork.

The announcement of Vision Fund 2 made no mention of Saudi Arabia among the investors, though reports ahead of the unveiling suggested Riyadh was in negotiations to put money into the fund. Son told reporters the fund was “the most important management engine” for his firm.

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