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SoftBank Sold About $14 Billion in Listed Stocks Last Quarter

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·3 min read
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(Bloomberg) -- SoftBank Group Corp. sold roughly $14 billion worth of listed stocks last quarter, nearly triple the amount in the previous period, as the company increases pace of investment in technology startups.

The company probably raised over $6 billion liquidating its holdings in Facebook Inc., Microsoft Corp., Alphabet Inc., Salesforce.com Inc. and Netflix Inc. in the three months ended June 30, according to Bloomberg calculations based on data disclosed by SoftBank in quarterly reports with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. About $4 billion more came from partial sales of its stakes in Uber Technologies Inc. and DoorDash Inc., the numbers show.

SoftBank’s founder Masayoshi Son, known for his reluctance to cash in on investments, is signaling a new appetite for exits to finance the accelerating pace of deal-making at his Vision Fund investment arm. The company poured $15 billion into private startups last quarter alone, about half of which came from proceeds of the share sales. Son also doubled the pot for Vision Fund 2, where the company is a sole investor, to $40 billion since the end of March.

“The last three quarters have largely been defined by the potential for Vision Fund portfolio companies to go public but a new theme is emerging as SoftBank starts to take money off the table,” Kirk Boodry, an analyst at Redex Research in Tokyo, wrote in a report after the earnings announcement on Aug. 10. “That theme probably picks up steam as the quarter goes on.”

SoftBank disclosed the number of shares it sold for each company without revealing specifically how much it received for those sales. Bloomberg estimated the amount of money it got through multiplying the number of shares sold by the average price of each stock during the quarter.

SB Northstar, a unit set up to trade public stocks and derivatives, also sold 2.4 million shares of PayPal Holdings Inc., 4.4 million shares of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., and about 367,000 shares of Amazon.com Inc. That generated about $2.37 billion. The unit, where Son personally holds a 33% stake, has been reducing its portfolio and the overall holdings of “highly liquid” securities declined to $13.6 billion as of June, from $22 billion at the end of 2020.

Separately, the Vision Fund disposed of almost 5.6 million shares of Guardant Health Inc., a California-based biotech company, and 23.4 million shares of Chinese online property platform KE Holdings Inc. The sales probably totaled just shy of $3 billion, according to Bloomberg calculations.

Son is still not eager to sell stakes in startups that have already gone public, the billionaire told investors and analysts on a call after the earnings. But the company needs to rotate its cash to finance Vision Fund deals and stocks that are stable and deemed to have limited upside are a fair game, he said, according to one participant, who declined to be named because the details aren’t public. On a separate call, Vision Fund Chief Financial Officer Navneet Govil said monetization is one of three important themes for the business going forward, alone with investment case and public listings.

A SoftBank spokeswoman declined to comment. While the company doesn’t make public the exact asset sales figures, it booked a total of $4.3 billion in realized gains between SB Northstar and its two Vision Fund entities last quarter.

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