Wednesday, 3 March 2021

SoftBank Group forecasts $7-b full-year net loss

Softbank Group CEO Masayoshi Son attends a press conference to announce the company’s financial results for the nine months to December 2019, in Tokyo on February 12, 2020. – Major Japanese technology investor SoftBank Group said on February 12 its net profit plunged nearly 70 percent for the nine months to December as investments in sharing economy companies including WeWork and Uber took a hit. (Photo by STR / JIJI PRESS / AFP) / Japan OUT (Photo by STR/JIJI PRESS/AFP via Getty Images)

TOKYO: Struggling Japanese conglomerate SoftBank Group on Monday forecast a $7-billion net loss for the year ended March due to the negative impact of coronavirus and losses related to WeWork.

The telecoms and investment giant, led by flamboyant entrepreneur Masayoshi Son, also said in a surprise press release it expected to suffer an operating loss of 1.35 trillion yen or $12.5 billion.

The firm cited a 1.8- trillion yen loss at its SoftBank Vision Fund, blaming “the deteriorating market environment” in the wake of the global coronavirus pandemic.

Under Son’s leadership SoftBank Group has morphed into an investment and technology firm, and its $100-billion Vision Fund has taken stakes in some of Silicon Valley’s hottest start-ups.

More recently, however, Son has faced criticism over his commitment to start-ups some say are overvalued and lack clear profit models.

The group last year announced its long-mooted Vision Fund 2, again targeting around $100 billion, but investors have been slower to commit this time around.

In Monday’s release, SoftBank said it also expected a loss of 800 billion yen on investments held outside the Vision Fund, including in WeWork.

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