Softbank Vision Fund loses $17.7bn as unicorns falter

Softbank Group's Vision Fund lost $17.7 billion last fiscal year, after writing down the value of investments like WeWork and Uber.

“The situation is exceedingly difficult,” stated founder Masayoshi Son in an earnings briefing yesterday. “Our unicorns have fallen into this sudden Coronavirus ravine... but some of them will use this crisis to grow wings.”

The Vision Fund has gone from being the group’s main contributor to profit a year ago to its biggest drag on earnings. Uber’s falling share price was responsible for about $5.2 billion of Vision Fund’s losses during the period, while WeWork contributed $4.6 billion, and another $7.5 billion came from the rest of the portfolio.

It also lost an investment in satellite operator OneWeb, which filed for bankruptcy in late March.

“It was foolish of me to invest in WeWork,” Son added.

The Vision Fund invests in 88 companies as of 31 March and is now worth $69.6 billion. SoftBank posted an annual operating loss of $12.7 billion, its first annual loss in 15 years.

Separately, it announced that Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma is was stepping down from the board. His resignation will come on 25 June, when new appointments will be made at the annual general meeting.

In April, SoftBank indicated that it was planning to sell down $41 billion in assets, which could include part of its Alibaba holdings and the company that will result from the merger of Sprint and T-Mobile.

SoftBank is also looking to buy back $23 billion of its own shares.

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