SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son went big on China. Now he’s pulling back
The Japanese billionaire said at an earnings presentation Tuesday that he would take a cautious approach until the impact of new regulations are clear.
Chinese companies accounted for 23% of SoftBank’s massive Vision Fund investment portfolio at the end of July. But only 11% of Vision Fund investment has been directed to the country since April, Son said.
“It’s because we would like to wait and see a while,” he added.
Taking questions from reporters, Son acknowledged that the company was “facing tough challenges when it comes to investments in China.”
“That’s true,” he said. “That’s something we’d like to be careful about, and be cautious. Once we have a better view, then we’d like to resume [further] investments.”
Son did not comment on Didi specifically during the presentation, but said that he still had “good expectations” from SoftBank’s portfolio companies in China.
He reiterated that the firm wanted to “wait and see how things go” as regulations continued to roll out, adding that there was no specific timeline on how long it planned to take that approach.
“Is it six months, 12 months? I don’t know yet,” the executive said.
“[But] in one year or two years, under the new rules, and under new orders, I think things will be much clearer … Once things get clearer, then we are open to resuming active investment.”
Despite the crackdown, Son said he remains bullish on China in the long run.
“There are still risks out there, like the risks in China. But we want to take risks,” he said. “We are not against or for the Chinese government, and we don’t have any doubt about [the] future potential of China.”
— Laura He contributed to this report.