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SoftBank's Tumble as Startup Bets Backfire

For the first time in 15 years, SoftBank is predicted to encounter an operating loss amounting to 1.35 trillion yen in its fiscal year through March 31, 2020. They are expected to lose 1.8 trillion yen from the SoftBank Vision Fund, their business unit in the investment field, due to "the deteriorating market environment" in response to uncertainty over the pandemic. Investments owned by SoftBank also experienced loss amounting to 800 billion yen whereas last year, this Japanese multinational company received an operating profit of 2 trillion yen. "This is looking more and more like the perfect storm for SoftBank," said Mr. Justin Tang, head of Asian Research at United First Partners. "The question is whether there is more to come," he added. The tumbling loss snowballed due to poor decision-making and investments acting as the catalyst, and the coronavirus being the salt in the wound. Masayoshi Son, Softbank Group Corp founder, has continuously been suffering losses, originating from WeWork's troublesome IPO launch, which ended with SoftBank's bailout. Aside from that, another SoftBank creditor called One Web, a satellite startup, has also filed a bank bankruptcy. The whole coronavirus situation is not helping at all, as SoftBank is a clear advocate of sharing-economy businesses, such as shared workspaces and transportation. Due to the pandemic requiring us to maintain physical distance, it has dramatically impacted another one of their business, namely OYO. If the situation carries on, the Indian budget hotel chain could very well be the next WeWork. As Koji Hirai, the head of M&A at advisory firm Kachitas Corp. in Tokyo, said, "The coronavirus was the final blow, but bad investments and misjudgments were the starts." Lastly, Softbank’s shares in Tokyo had decreased by 4,2% to 4,025 Yen. As a result, investors feel apprehensive about the stability of the Softbank company and its $100 billion vision-fund during these times. Softbank plans to sell its US$14 billion shares in Chinese e-commerce leader; Alibaba Group, as part of an effort to shore up businesses battered by the coronavirus outbreak. Nevertheless, Softbank stock price has recovered since falling to a four-year low of ¥2,687 on March 19. In order to overcome the loss, Son is considering selling US$41 billion worth of SoftBank's assets, which later on, will be used to pay-off Softbank debts and reduce the company’s burden. Sources: Straits Times The Jakarta Post CNN WSJ Reuters

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