SoftBank to lend employees up to US$20 bil for fund

NEW YORK: SoftBank Group Corp is planning to lend as much as US$20 billion to its employees to buy stakes in its second venture capital fund following the success of an earlier US$100 billion fund to invest in tech startups, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The second Vision Fund aims to raise US$108 billion, SoftBank said earlier. In addition to its employees, it’s also expected to collect money from Apple Inc, Microsoft Corp, Foxconn Technology Group and the sovereign wealth fund of Kazakhstan.

It’s also won support from Japanese financial institutions, with seven identified as signing memorandums of understanding to participate.

Founder and Chief Executive Officer Masayoshi Son may account for half of the employee investment pool, according to the Journal, citing people familiar with the matter it didn’t identify.

Emily Claffey, an external spokeswoman for SoftBank, didn’t respond to queries on loans to employees for the fund.

Son has a net worth of US$16.9 billion, making him Japan’s second-richest person, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. SoftBank also said earlier it’s committing US$38 billion in capital itself to the fund.

Earlier this month, SoftBank reported first-quarter profit that beat the highest analyst estimate with valuation gains from Vision Fund investments such as Slack Technologies Inc, which went public in June, hotel chain OYO Rooms and food-delivery app DoorDash Inc.

The gains were offset by a ¥195.3 billion (US$1.8 billion) decline in the fair value of holdings including Uber Technologies Inc.

SoftBank also said the Vision Fund held 81 investments worth about US$66.3 billion. SoftBank in June disclosed the first fund had earned 62% returns so far. About five or six companies from the fund will list by next March, Son said earlier.