SoftBank Vision Fund posts first annual gain in 3 years, up $4.6 billion

SoftBank posted a 724.3 billion Japanese yen ($4.6 billion) gain on its Vision Fund in the fiscal year ended March. Read more...

SoftBank’s Vision Fund, the brainchild of the company’s founder Masayoshi Son, has faced a number of headwinds including a slump in technology stocks as a result of rising interest rates, a tough China market and geopolitics.

Kentaro Takahash | Bloomberg | Getty Images

SoftBank posted a 724.3 billion Japanese yen ($4.6 billion) gain on its Vision Fund in the fiscal year ended in March, the first time the flagship tech investment arm has been in the black since 2021.

For the full fiscal year, SoftBank’s Vision Fund segment posted a profit of 128.2 billion yen, compared with a 4.3 trillion yen loss the year before.

A recovery in the Vision Fund helped SoftBank Group swing to a profit in the fiscal fourth quarter that ended in March.

The Vision Fund was helped by the increase in value of some of SoftBank’s most high-profile investments, including TikTok owner ByteDance and U.S. food delivery firm DoorDash. However, SoftBank took a hit on some of its other investments such as Chinese ride-hailing firm DiDi as well as office-sharing company WeWork, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last year.

The gain in the Vision Fund was due in large part to the initial public offering of chip designer Arm last year.

The Japanese firm said gains associated with the IPO of Arm, which is a subsidiary of Softbank, are not reported in its “consolidated statement of profit or loss.” Excluding gains associated with Vision Fund’s investments in its subsidiaries, the tech investment arm posted a loss of 167.3 billion yen.

Still, there are signs a recovery is underway for SoftBank which has been hit by bad bets on some tech firms as well as volatile markets.

Here’s how SoftBank did in the March quarter against LSEG estimates:

  • Net sales: 1.75 trillion yen versus 1.84 trillion yen expected.
  • Net profit: 231.1 billion yen versus a 71.64 billion yen loss expected.

Still for the full year, SoftBank posted an overall loss of 227.6 billion yen, but that is narrower than the 970.1 billion yen loss from the previous fiscal year.

Arm ‘core’ to AI shift

SoftBank’s flagship tech investment arm, the Vision Fund, had a tough time in the fiscal year that ended in March 2023, posting a record loss of around $32 billion amid a slump in tech stock prices and the souring of some of the business’ bets in China.

However, in the June quarter of last year, the Vision Fund posted its first investment gain in five consecutive quarters, signaling early stages of a recovery.

SoftBank founder Masayoshi Son flagged in 2023 that the firm would shift into “offense” mode, from defense mode, and depart from its cautious approach to start making more investments.

SoftBank’s chief financial officer, Yoshimitsu Goto, said in the previous quarter that SoftBank had shifted from an “Alibaba to AI-centric portfolio.”

The tech conglomerate grew into one of Japan’s biggest companies thanks to Son’s early bet on Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba in 2000, which has boomed over the coming years.

The firm has been cutting its stake in Alibaba, and senior executives, including Son and Goto, have touted their excitement around artificial intelligence technology and SoftBank’s potential to invest in companies in the sector.

Arm has become a central part of SoftBank’s portfolio. At the end of March, Arm accounted for 47% of assets held by SoftBank, compared with just just 10% in March 2020, Goto said Monday. Alibaba accounts for 0% of assets held versus 48% in the same period.

“Arm is core to our AI shift,” Goto said.

Correction: An earlier version of this article misstated the full-year gain for SoftBank’s Vision Fund.

Read more

Add Comment

Click here to post a comment