SoftBank launches fund for early stage investment

SoftBank has seen it needs a harder line on investments

Japanese conglomerate SoftBank is set to launch a venture capital fund for early stage investment days after a foray into South America.

The new global investment fund, run by Seoul-based SoftBank Ventures Asia, will be worth $500m (£380m) and could launch as soon as next month.

SoftBank plans to open new offices and hire investment managers in Singapore and Shanghai as part of this launch. 

The telecoms giant, which is already a major shareholder in companies such as Uber, ARM and WeWork, plans to aggressively expand its investment portfolio by creating new funds worth $100bn every two to three years and spend $50bn annually.

SoftBank Ventures chief executive JP Lee told Reuters that this move towards early stage funding is an “important signal” within the group, whose objective is to cash in as “small guys become big guys”.

This move will quiet rumours of the Japanese giant slowing down after launching an ambitious global investment strategy. 

Last week SoftBank allocated $2bn to invest in companies in South America in the next four to five years, in a move to build on its existing e-commerce investments in the region. 

Both funds are in addition to its existing $100bn Vision Fund, which launched in 2016 as a “strategic partnership” with Saudi Arabia.

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