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SoftBank founder Masayoshi Son likely to visit India; meetings with govt officials, founders lined up

SoftBank Corporation founder and CEO Masayoshi Son is expected to visit India next week after a gap of more than four years, as per people familiar with his plans. This will be one his first trips outside of Japan after Covid restrictions were lifted globally.

Son is likely to meet government officials and a slew of SoftBank portfolio founders and CEOs during his day-long stay in New Delhi.

The India visit assumes significance as it comes on the back of SoftBank having been hit hard by major losses due to its ambitious $100 billion Vision Fund in the last year. The fund is battered by a tech rout amid rising interest rates, geopolitical concerns and the Covid-led bump up in digital businesses waning.

Also read: SoftBank biggest foreign investor in India, funding 10% of all unicorns: Masayoshi Son

“Son will be meeting in-person with some of the founders for the first time as a bunch of these investments took place post 2019,” a person aware of the matter said.

SoftBank is among the largest foreign tech investors in India having deployed $15 billion here over the past decade. Some of its early big bets in the domestic market include Ola, Oyo, Paytm, Snapdeal and Flipkart. Among its newer investments are companies like Lenskart, Firstcry, Meesho, Unacademy, OfBusiness, Delhivery, among others.

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Last year, on a visit to Tokyo, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had met Son to discuss the Japanese investment firm’s future participation in Indian technology, energy, finance and R&D sectors.SoftBank has drastically scaled back investment activity to offset the losses and has become a seller in the market. In India it’s been offloading stakes across its listed firms like Delhivery, Paytm and Policybazaar.

Earlier this week, SoftBank sold 3.85% or 2.8 crore shares worth Rs 954 crore in Gurgaon-based Delhivery through bulk deals.

Shares were sold at Rs 340.80 apiece. SoftBank is the largest public stakeholder in the logistics company, holding an 18.42% stake as of December 31, 2022, through its entity SVF Doorbell (Cayman) Ltd. The Japanese conglomerate acquired over 22% stake in the company in October 2018.

SoftBank Vision Fund has seen a major rejig in its leadership team along with executing job cuts at the firm.

Last year, Son said Rajeev Misra, chief executive officer, SB Investment Advisers, which manages SoftBank Vision Fund, will step down from his executive role at the technology fund.

Later in August 2022, the fund’s managing partner Sumer Juneja and India head was given the additional responsibility of overseeing Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA), as per an official communication from the firm on Friday.

Previously, SoftBank Group’s chief operating officer, Marcelo Claure also left the firm after a fallout with Son over his pay, media reports suggested.

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