SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son, under pressure from hedge fund Elliott Management to rein in his mercurial funding style, turned on the charm in a meeting with U.S. investors Monday; however, he offered few solid concessions.
Son, who built SoftBank into a technology funding powerhouse, is now having to defend his track record after a number of its dearer bets on startups, including office space-sharing agency WeWork, soured.
Elliott, which controls $40 billion in assets, has held talks with SoftBank’s management and is calling on the corporation to buy back about $20 billion of its stock, revamp its governance by increasing the freedom and diversity of its board and improving transparency, sources stated last month.
Son stated Monday he had not given enough emphasis to the opinions of investors and the firm’s separate board members, based on three sources who attended the meeting.
Son pointed to SoftBank’s stock trading at a big cut to the value of its belongings as an opportunity for investors to buy-in.
A leader among SoftBank’s misses is WeWork, in which SoftBank put in billions of dollars to support CEO Adam Neumann before stepping in to bail the company out and replace him.
The WeWork funding was made out of SoftBank’s $100 billion Vision Fund, which has invested in or acquired the likes of Uber Technologies, British chip technology agency Arm Holdings and U.S. wireless carrier Sprint.
SoftBank was aiming to attract $108 billion in funds for a second Vision Fund and has dedicated $38 billion of its own cash toward that aim.
Nonetheless, Son stated in February its roll-out was delayed due to investor concerns about the performance of the first Vision Fund.