SoftBank or SoftBankrupt? Masa Son says his rescue plan is working

“A lot of people were concerned,” Son said Thursday, referring to how badly the Japanese conglomerate hit in the past fiscal year. SoftBank reported an annual operating loss of 1.36 trillion yen ($ 12.7 billion), the worst of all, due to a series of technology bets that went wrong and the coronavirus pandemic.

Son’s tone on Thursday during an online meeting of SoftBank shareholders was more optimistic than last month when he reported the company’s record losses. He added that people thought the company was “Softpunku”, using Japanese word games that can roughly translate to “SoftBankrupt” in English.

In recent months, SoftBank has taken dramatic steps to shore up its finances, including a plan to sell $ 41 billion in assets to buy back shares and reduce the company’s huge debt burden. So far, Son said, the company has completed 80% of the asset sales it intends to make, although it did not elaborate on the remaining portion. Earlier this week, SoftBank confirmed that it was downloading approximately $ 20 billion in T-Mobile stock.

Son said Thursday things are getting better: SoftBank’s holding value rose to 30 trillion yen ($ 280 billion) this week, about 2 trillion yen ($ 18 billion) more than at the end of March. .

The billionaire also defended the high salary of his company’s executives, including Vision Fund chief Rajeev Misra. Misra earned 1.61 trillion yen ($ 15 million) in full compensation for the fiscal year that ended in March, more than double his salary the year before, SoftBank said in a regulatory filing late last month.
“The responsibility is all mine,” Son said of his company’s financial performance, adding that his deputies “opposed investing” from the start in the troubled coworking startup WeWork. WeWork tried and failed to carry out a public offering last year, and required a bailout from SoftBank. Since then, the conglomerate has strayed from part of that rescue package.

“However, I pushed and that is my responsibility. I should accept a cut,” Son said. “The judgment for my other executives must be comprehensive.” Son earned 209 million yen ($ 1.9 million) during the last fiscal year, a 9% pay cut compared to the previous year. He said he would take a 50% pay cut this year to 100 million yen.

Son on Thursday also said that I was leaving Alibaba (SLIME) the board of directors on another break from the company that cemented the Japanese billionaire’s status as a technology visionary.
He added that the decision was friendly and coincided with the departure of Alibaba founder Jack Ma from the SoftBank board. SoftBank announced last month that Ma would be leaving.

“We will continue to be a long-term investor in Alibaba,” said Son.

The Chinese e-commerce company is the crown jewel of SoftBank’s investment portfolio, and Son con Ma’s rise has been legendary. Son invested $ 20 million in Alibaba 20 years ago, turning that bet into one that was worth $ 60 billion when Alibaba went public in 2014. Son referred to Ma as a “friend and partner,” and said last month that the two had dinner each month before the coronavirus pandemic to discuss life and business.