June 20, 2018 / 7:03 AM / 5 months ago

SoftBank's Son to focus on investing to speed up major company shift

TOKYO, June 20 (Reuters) - SoftBank Group Corp’s CEO Masayoshi Son said on Wednesday he plans to devote the bulk of his time to hunt for technology investments around the world, as part of a major shift in focus underway at the Japanese telecoms and tech group.

“I have spent 97 percent of my time on managing the telecoms business and only 3 percent on investing,” Son said, adding that reversing that balance will allow SoftBank to grow faster.

The comments, made to investors at the group’s annual general meeting in Tokyo, came as shareholders approved the appointment of three executive vice-presidents, SoftBank unit Sprint Corp’s former chief executive Marcelo Claure and former bankers Katsunori Sago and Rajeev Misra.

Son’s comments fit with a transformation taking place at SoftBank from domestic telecoms powerhouse to “unicorn hunter” - as Son terms it - focusing on late stage startups around the world.

SoftBank and its investment vehicle Vision Fund, which raised more than $93 billion last year, have upended the world of dealmaking, buying up stakes in companies including shared-office space company WeWork and ride-sharing firms Uber and Didi, Ola and Grab.

Bolivian-born billionaire Claure was appointed SoftBank Group’s chief operating officer in May, tasked with driving cooperation between the portfolio companies. Former Goldman Sachs executive Sago became chief strategy officer on Wednesday and will look at the group’s investment strategy. Misra runs the Vision Fund.

SoftBank plans to list its domestic telecoms unit as part of efforts to clarify the value of its component parts for investors and reduce the conglomerate discount that has weighed on its share price.

SoftBank shares have fallen around 7 percent this year. (Reporting by Sam Nussey; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)

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