Vision Fund posts $32 billion loss


SoftBank has faced headwinds in its Vision Fund investment division due to a fall in technology company valuations amid rising interest rates.

Kiyoshi Ota | Bloomberg | Getty Images

SoftBank recorded a record loss for its Vision Fund, as a recent rally in tech stocks failed to boost its flagship investment unit.

The Japanese giant’s Vision Fund segment posted a 4.3 trillion Japanese yen ($32 billion) loss for its fiscal year ending Mar. 31 versus a 2.55 trillion yen loss in the same period a year before.

SoftBank posted an overall loss on investments at its Vision Funds of 5.28 trillion Japanese yen versus 3.43 trillion yen a year before. Despite a rally this year in tech stocks, they are broadly still lower than a year ago. The tech-heavy Nasdaq 100 index declined about 11% during SoftBank’s fiscal year.

Overall, SoftBank posted a net loss of 970.14 billion yen for the fiscal year, narrower than the 1.7 trillion loss in the same period a year before.

SoftBank said that, despite gains from exiting investments in high-profile companies like ride-hailing firm Uber, it logged losses in other areas, including the share prices of Chinese artificial intelligence firm SenseTime and Indonesian ride-hailing and e-commerce company GoTo.

Over the past year, SoftBank has been exiting some of its highest-profile investments to raise cash. It said it had sold its remaining stake in U.S. ride-hailing giant Uber in August, and it narrowed its overall losses through sales of shares in T-Mobile and Alibaba. It continues to offload some of its shares in the latter company via a derivative called a forward contract, after Son made his fortune with an early investment in Alibaba more than two decades ago. 

The brainchild of founder Masayoshi Son, SoftBank’s Vision Fund —  comprising Vision Fund 1 and Vision Fund 2 —  invests in high growth stocks that have faced headwinds from rising interest rates globally causing investors to sell out of riskier equities such as tech.

Amid mounting losses, Son’s key ally and top SoftBank executive Rajeev Misra stepped back from some of his roles at the company. Misra was instrumental in the early days of the Vision Fund, which was launched in 2017.

‘Defense’ mode

Around a year ago, Son said SoftBank would go into “defense” mode amid the headwinds and become more disciplined with its investments.

That tactic appeared to be working in SoftBank’s fiscal fourth quarter from January to March, helped by the rally in tech stocks. SoftBank’s Vision Funds recorded investment losses 236.8 billion yen in the period, versus 730.3 billion yen in the quarter before.

SoftBank said it made $3.14 billion in new or follow-on investments in its fiscal year, down from $44.26 billion in the same period of the previous year.

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