Exclusive: SoftBank prepares new round of layoffs at Vision Fund

SAN FRANCISCO, June 12 (Reuters) – SoftBank Group Corp (9984.T) is planning a fresh round of layoffs at its Vision Fund investment arm, two people familiar with the matter said, the latest cost-cutting move at the Japanese conglomerate.

The layoffs, which could be announced in the next two weeks, may impact up to 30% of its staff at the unit, including employees in U.S., one of the people added. SoftBank’s Vision Fund unit, which has booked heavy investment losses, had headcount of 349 at the end of March, according to a company report.

The sources declined to be identified as the information was confidential. SoftBank declined to comment.

If finalized, this would follow the elimination of about 150 jobs globally at the investing arm and SoftBank Group International in September.

SoftBank, an aggressive investor in tech companies such as fintech giant Klarna and TikTok owner ByteDance, has seen the valuation of its portfolio drop amid sharp interest rate hikes and rising U.S.-China tensions.

The group reported an annual net loss of 970 billion yen ($7.2 billion) for the year ended March 31. It cushioned the investment loss at the Vision Fund unit by selling down its stake in Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (9988.HK).

Vision Fund 2’s portfolio was worth $31 billion at end-March compared with an acquisition cost of $49.9 billion.

SoftBank has radically scaled back its investing activity and Son has withdrawn from public presentations to focus on the listing of chip designer Arm.

The Cambridge, England-based Arm has filed confidentially for a U.S. stock market listing that could land later this year and would provide a much-needed cash injection for SoftBank.

Intel (INTC.O) is in talks with Arm to be an anchor investor in the chip designer’s IPO, a source familiar with the matter said on Monday.

SoftBank’s shares were up 5% in Tuesday morning trade following the news.

While SoftBank has been pursuing a defensive strategy to shore up its balance sheet, the conglomerate said in May it is looking to find a “balance between defense and offense” – a signal it could invest more in the future.

Reporting by Krystal Hu in San Francisco and Sam Nussey in Tokyo; Editing by Kenneth Li and Edwina Gibbs

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Krystal reports on venture capital and startups for Reuters. She covers Silicon Valley and beyond through the lens of money and characters, with a focus on growth-stage startups, tech investments and AI. She has previously covered M&A for Reuters, breaking stories on Trump’s SPAC and Elon Musk’s Twitter financing. Previously, she reported on Ama…


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