Son says SoftBank-Saudi fund to continue despite Khashoggi murder

06, Nov. 2018


TOKYO, Kyodo - SoftBank Group Corp. Chairman Masayoshi Son said Monday that its Saudi-backed fund will continue operating despite the controversial murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

"We bear the responsibility (for the operation of the Vision Fund)," Son said at a press conference in Tokyo to announce earnings results for the April-September period.

Gains from investments in technology companies through the fund have helped lift the financial results of the Japanese telecommunications and internet services giant, with group net profit rising around eight-fold in the period to 840.10 billion yen ($7.4 billion).

Its group operating profit rose 62.4 percent to about 1.42 trillion yen, on sales of 4.65 trillion yen, up 5.5 percent.

The company did not provide a forecast for the full current fiscal year.

Softbank's Vision Fund was set up last year with partners including Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund and focuses on investments in information technology companies in the fields of ride-hailing, e-commerce, digital payments and health care.

But concerns have arisen about the nearly $100 billion technology investment vehicle's future, following the murder of the journalist.

Son said the murder "shouldn't be allowed to occur" and urged the Saudi government to get to the bottom of the incident.

The chairman also said the company will cut 40 percent of its workforce involved in the domestic communication business to offer services at lower prices and to streamline operations. (Kyodo)