|Bid||8.62 x 3100|
|Ask||8.63 x 1800|
|Day's Range||8.61 - 8.77|
|52 Week Range||4.99 - 11.16|
|Beta (5Y Monthly)||1.54|
|PE Ratio (TTM)||N/A|
|Forward Dividend & Yield||N/A (N/A)|
|Ex-Dividend Date||May 19, 2017|
|1y Target Est||5.52|
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- The deterioration of U.S.-China relations is fast and furious, with Washington throwing out accusations of unfair trade practices, unlawful technology transfer and an early cover-up of the coronavirus outbreak, which has claimed over 100,000 American lives. The Chinese yuan, this year’s beacon of stability, is now is now at risk of tumbling like other emerging markets currencies.On Wednesday, the offshore yuan, which trades freely, flirted with its weakest level on record, dropping as much as 0.7% to 7.1965. While Thursday morning’s yuan fix came in stronger than expected, the overall sentiment is downbeat.It’s tempting to theorize that a weaker yuan could become a powerful weapon in the new Cold War, yet there’s little evidence of foul play from the People’s Bank of China. Since mid-2017, the central bank has based its fixing on the previous day’s close, dollar movement overnight against a currency basket, and what it calls the “countercyclical factor," a catch-all metric that grants wiggle room to deviate from market fundamentals. The yuan can move in a 2% trading range around the PBOC’s daily target.Take a look at Goldman Sachs Group Inc.'s estimate of the countercyclical factor. Over the last year, the PBOC has been consistently guiding its yuan stronger, not weaker, to artificially track the dollar. For all the theatrics of getting labeled a currency manipulator, Beijing wasn’t making its exports any cheaper.What’s new this year is the PBOC’s Zen-like attitude. Rather than playing the heroic fireman, handling one crisis after another, the central bank has been largely hands-off. It has used the countercyclical factor in a meaningful way only twice since January, on Feb. 4 when China emerged from the Lunar New Year holiday to face a national lockdown, and at the end of March when the outbreak was shaking up global markets.And why should the PBOC adhere to the dollar anyway? The coronavirus downturn has only showcased America’s exceptionalism — it prints the world’s reserve currency. Haven demand for the dollar has surged, evidenced by soaring currency swap rates from the euro zone to South Korea, and the Federal Reserve’s scramble to re-establish swap lines with other central banks. Looking back to 2008, the greenback only started to weaken two months after demand for “emergency dollars” peaked, data provided by Deutsche Bank AG show.So it makes sense for China to adopt a more enlightened approach, allowing the yuan to weaken during periods of dollar strength, and catch up when global tensions recede. From the PBOC’s view, the trade-weighted yuan is certainly stronger now than it was last fall, when the central bank was in fire-fighting mode. China doesn’t want to spend another $1 trillion of its foreign reserves defending its currency. The rapid drawdown in 2015 and 2016 traumatized the Chinese for good.To be sure, the pressure of capital outflows is still there. Just look at the consistent negative value of the “net error and omissions” figures in China’s balance of payment data. However, here’s the beauty of the virus: The Chinese can’t go anywhere. They can’t come to Hong Kong to buy insurance products, and unless you’re ultra-rich (with private bankers around the world apartment-hunting for you), Manhattan real estate is off-limits. The PBOC has less to worry about than before.So now the market can test the true value of the yuan. It could easily drop below 7.30 if the phase one trade deal breaks down and the Trump administration imposes some of the tariffs it had previously threatened, estimates HSBC Holdings Plc.Long-time China bear Kyle Bass abandoned his yuan short in early 2019 for the greenback-pegged Hong Kong dollar. He didn’t profit from his yuan trade because the PBOC established powerful tools, such as selling yuan-denominated bills in the offshore market, to kill anyone betting against the currency. Now that their interests are becoming aligned, it’s time for the bears to wake up.This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Shuli Ren is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering Asian markets. She previously wrote on markets for Barron's, following a career as an investment banker, and is a CFA charterholder.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinionSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- SoftBank Group Corp.’s Vision Fund is planning deep cuts in staffing after reporting about $18 billion in losses from the declining value of its startups, according to people familiar with the matter.The reductions could affect about 10% of the fund’s workforce of roughly 500, said two of the people, who asked not to be identified discussing personnel decisions. The Vision Fund’s headquarters are in London, with additional operations in Tokyo and California. The cuts will be across all levels of staff, said one person.A spokesman for the Vision Fund declined to comment.SoftBank founder Masayoshi Son and his $100 billion Vision Fund changed the tech industry by handing out enormous checks to relatively unproven startups. But the fund went from SoftBank’s main profit contributor a year ago to its biggest drag on earnings. It lost 1.9 trillion yen ($17.7 billion) last fiscal year after writing down the value of investments, including WeWork and Uber Technologies Inc.Son originally said he hoped to raise a new Vision Fund every two to three years, but he has conceded he can’t attract money now because of the poor performance. The fund, led by Rajeev Misra, operates as a SoftBank affiliate with most of the money coming from limited partners, led by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund and Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala Investment Co.“It makes sense that SoftBank is cutting positions at the Vision Fund as they are in an extremely difficult situation, and they may start targeting highly paid workers to cut costs,” said Koji Hirai, head of M&A advisory firm Kachitas Corp. in Tokyo.The Vision Fund grew rapidly after launch three years ago as Misra recruited scores of people from the finance industry, including many of his former colleagues from Deutsche Bank. Among its managing partners are several of the German bank’s ex-employees, including Colin Fan, former co-head of its investment banking division.The fund also set up an unusual compensation structure that includes a $5 billion loan to employees. The debt is swapped for equity in the fund and generates profit when deals make money -- and losses when they don’t, scaled by seniority, people familiar with the matter have said. The poor performance so far, along with the layoffs, may prompt some employees to look for other positions.“One side effect is that the best people at SoftBank may exit to find better funds,” said Hirai. “If so, their fund business may become even worse, sliding down from a slope.”The Vision Fund has struggled since WeWork botched its efforts to go public last year and SoftBank stepped in to bail the company out. The Vision Fund currently manages more than 80 portfolio companies, but Son expects about 15 of the fund’s startups will likely go bankrupt while predicting another 15 will thrive.“Vision Fund’s results are not something to be proud of,” Son said earlier this month as he announced record losses. “If the results are bad, you can’t raise money from investors. Things aren’t good, that’s why we are investing with our own money.”The fund has already unwound some investments, including selling a nearly 50% stake in dog-walking startup Wag Labs back to the company last year. Son has said he plans to sell off about $42 billion in assets to finance stock buybacks and pay down debt.SoftBank disclosed it’s unloading some shares in Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. and is in talks to sell about $20 billion of T-Mobile US Inc., Bloomberg News reported. It’s also exploring a deal for its minority stake in industrial software maker OSIsoft LLC that could be worth $1.5 billion.SoftBank shares, after plummeting in March, have recovered and are little changed for the year. The stock rose just more than 1% in Tokyo trading.One emerging question is how Alibaba -- SoftBank’s most valuable holding -- will be affected by the clash between the U.S. and China. A bill just approved by the U.S. Senate could force Chinese companies like Alibaba to stop trading their shares on U.S. exchanges.“The big picture is SoftBank is caught up with U.S.-China conflict right now, and SoftBank may need to conduct a drastic restructuring if Alibaba was delisted from New York,” said Hirai. “Its main banks and the capital markets are anxiously awaiting an outcome for the situation.”(Updates with additional details starting in the first paragraph.)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- Something strange happened in the U.S. stock market on Tuesday.No, it wasn’t that the S&P 500 crossed 3,000 for the first time in almost three months, generating a yelp of joy from the White House and groans from Wall Street veterans who remain perplexed at the seeming disconnect between financial markets and the American economy.Rather, the most unusual part of the latest rally is that bank shares clearly led the advance. As of last week, Bloomberg’s 18-company S&P 500 Banks Index was down more than 40% in 2020, trailing the broader stock market by an almost unprecedented degree since the coronavirus pandemic shut down the world’s largest economy. However, the index soared 9% on Tuesday, far and away a bigger gain than any of the other 23 industry groups. A simple ratio of this bank index to the broad S&P 500 shows the extent to which financials have been beaten down so far in 2020 relative to other segments of the stock market. The gauge fell on May 13 to a level seen only twice before in data going back three decades, both in March 2009. The banks swiftly rebounded in the following months as the U.S. recession officially drew to a close in June of that year.As investors weigh the drastic gains on Wall Street against the backdrop of widespread unemployment and shuttered small businesses on Main Street, the performance of bank stocks may prove to be a crucial barometer of whether markets can sustain their exuberance. Few analysts dispute that shares of financial companies are cheap on a relative basis — but sometimes prices are depressed for good reasons. Inexpensiveness alone isn’t a compelling enough reason to expect banks to bounce back as they did in 2009. Instead, perhaps more than any other industry, a lasting rally will come down to investors’ conviction in a sharp and sustained economic recovery.Investors have a few obvious reasons to be wary of U.S. banks. For one, long-term interest rates are near record lows while traders have started to wager on negative short-term rates, even as Federal Reserve officials repeatedly question the policy. All this points to lower net interest income, a crucial metric that reflects the spread between what a company earns on its loans and what it pays on its deposits. Meanwhile, large banks have already halted share buybacks, and minutes from April’s Federal Open Market Committee meeting revealed that policy makers are debating whether they should also restrict their ability to pay dividends to shareholders during the pandemic.Whether those downsides merit a $1 trillion wipeout, akin to the 2008 financial crisis, is not so clear cut. As Bloomberg News’s Lu Wang and Felice Maranz reported, at that time the financial industry’s earnings worsened for eight consecutive quarters, but analysts only expect profit declines to last half as long this time around. Banks are broadly considered to be well capitalized — certainly much more than they were 12 years ago when they had to be bailed out by the government. JPMorgan Chase & Co. Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon expressed confidence in mid-April, when the outlook was even more uncertain than today, that the biggest U.S. bank can handle “really adverse consequences.” He said on Tuesday that the U.S. could see a “fairly rapid recovery.”“The government has been pretty responsive, large companies have the wherewithal, hopefully we’re keeping the small ones alive,” he said at a virtual conference hosted by Deutsche Bank AG.It’s far too soon to declare an “all clear” on the economy, but it’s starting to look as if actions from the Fed and Congress at least helped the U.S. clear the low bar of avoiding the worst-case scenario. The numbers are still awful, especially when it comes to unemployment, but data released Tuesday showed an unexpected increase in new-home sales in April compared with those a month earlier. Broadly, Citigroup Inc.’s economic surprise index is off its lows, indicating that recent figures aren’t quite as bad as analysts expected.“The economic data have been so darn grim lately with job losses in the tens of millions that the green shoots of optimism from better consumer confidence and new home sales are welcome,” Chris Rupkey, chief financial economist at MUFG Union Bank NA, wrote on Tuesday. “We still can’t see a V-shaped recovery, but at least this is looking like the shortest recession in history which will be measured in months not years.”If that’s the case, investors will likely look back on the past few weeks as a time when bank stocks became far too cheap compared with other parts of the market. Yet Tuesday’s seemingly huge rally still leaves financial companies worth far less than before the pandemic, and it seems reasonable to expect they’ll remain that way for a while. After all, it’s anyone’s guess just how many loans will end up going bad and saddle banks with losses. There are far more moving parts to JPMorgan’s bottom line than that of, say, Netflix Inc., which fell 3% on Tuesday, the most in almost a month.It’s never a good idea to read too much into one optimistic trading day, especially coming out of a U.S. holiday weekend in which many Americans probably got a taste of “normal” pre-pandemic activities. But on its face, Tuesday looks as if it could be something of a turning point for bank shares. The follow-through will indicate if they were just too cheap to pass up, or if the economy truly is on the mend.This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Brian Chappatta is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering debt markets. He previously covered bonds for Bloomberg News. He is also a CFA charterholder.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinionSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
New York, New York--(Newsfile Corp. - May 28, 2020) - Bronstein, Gewirtz & Grossman, LLC is investigating potential claims on behalf of purchasers of Deutsche Bank Aktiengesellschaft (NYSE: DB) ("Deutsche Bank" or "the Company"). Investors who purchased Deutsche Bank securities are encouraged to obtain additional information and assist the investigation by visiting the firm's site: www.bgandg.com/db.The investigation concerns whether Deutsche Bank and certain of its officers and/or directors have violated federal securities laws.On May 13, ...
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- The Covid-19 pandemic is even starting to affect the highly specialized world of bank capital.Lloyds Banking Group Plc, a large British lender, has just become the third European bank this year to do what was once unthinkable and decline to redeem an outstanding “CoCo” bond at its first call date. This form of hybrid debt — also known as additional tier 1 (or AT1) regulatory capital — is especially risky because the investor bears the losses if the bank fails, and it usually pays a generous interest rate.Because of their special status, there had always been a tacit understanding — though not a legal obligation — that investors would be able to cash in the bonds at the first redemption date, if they so chose, at least with European CoCos. But that tradition looks to be well and truly over among the stronger banks.Lloyds cited “extraordinary market challenges presented by Covid-19” as the reason to extend its own AT1s. With its dividend payments to equity holders suspended currently at the behest of the U.K. financial regulator, because of the coronavirus crisis, it would have looked rum indeed if the bank had cut its equity capital for the benefit of a small group of bondholders. This select bunch ought to have known the risk.The financial savings for Lloyds are just as relevant. By retaining the 6.375% 750 million-euro ($824 million) CoCo, it will switch to paying a floating coupon just above 5%. If it had redeemed the AT1 and issued a replacement bond, it would have had to offer a higher coupon to reflect the current market, probably one above 7%.Lloyds has a solid Tier 1 capital base of 16.9%, so in normal times it would have been expected to keep its bond investors happy. But regulatory pressure and the increase in yields on risky debt during the current crisis has forced even the better capitalized banks to prioritize their financing costs.Spain’s Banco Santander SA set the precedent last year of a blue-chip lender not redeeming its AT1 debt out of pure economic self-interest. That’s standard practice in the U.S. market, but Santander’s action caused a storm here in Europe. Germany’s Deutsche Bank AG and Aareal Bank AG have also skipped calls this year.This Americanization of the European CoCo market looks like a trend. ABN Amro Bank NV and Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc both have AT1 bonds with calls due this summer, and Barclays Plc is due later in the year. They may follow the Lloyds example and retain cheap AT1 capital raised at lower yields.Banks have benefited hugely from AT1 issues as regulators count it as permanent equity (although it was almost always redeemed), meaning it counts toward capital buffers. And the cost is much lower for the issuer than true perpetual debt. Investors have been happy to play along as the yields far exceed those on bank debt with legally enforceable redemption dates.The Lloyds move is a wake-up call for AT1 investors.While the bigger banks’ CoCo bonds will probably still be popular, even if the call date is no longer guaranteed implicitly, the change might do more damage to weaker lenders. If investors no longer feel confident that their money will automatically be returned at the first redemption date, they’ll demand a higher return for the risk.The CoCo market only reopened tentatively this month with a new Bank of Ireland Group Plc deal. The Irish lender did what Lloyds refused to do and redeemed its existing AT1 and reissued at a higher cost. At least it managed to keep its investors happy and on board.This new separation between large stable banks being able to act according to their own economic advantage, while smaller rivals have to offer chunkier premiums, is a worry for the health of the financial system. It ought to be an urgent matter for consideration by European regulators. Forcing the strong banks to keep capital has consequences for their less illustrious peers. This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Marcus Ashworth is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering European markets. He spent three decades in the banking industry, most recently as chief markets strategist at Haitong Securities in London.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinionSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
Deutsche Bank chief executive Christian Sewing said on Tuesday that markets were too optimistic in their assessment of a recovery from the coronavirus crisis. It's a bearish statement from one of Europe's top bankers as key stock indexes have continue their climb from their lows in March. Sewing, speaking to investors attending an online conference, said that the real economic consequences of the crisis are still uncertain despite an ongoing market recovery.
(Bloomberg) -- Christian Sewing has a bullish message for anyone doubting how his beleaguered Deutsche Bank AG will come through coronavirus crisis.The chief executive officer said on Tuesday that the positive momentum enjoyed by the big fixed-income trading unit in the first quarter carried over into April and May. At home, Deutsche Bank is benefiting as corporations who want access to the giant government aid package are turning to Germany’s biggest lender as their middleman. And despite the crisis, he has no intention of slowing down cost reductions.The comments sent shares of the lender higher, while raising the bar for the CEO to deliver when he presents second-quarter earnings. Sewing, speaking at the bank’s global financial services conference, said the crisis validates his decision to reduce risk, exit equities trading and focus on the businesses where Deutsche Bank has a leading position.Analysts, who have seen a succession of Deutsche Bank CEOs overpromising and underdelivering, so far don’t share his optimism. Not a single one forecasts Deutsche Bank to reach an 8% return of tangible equity in 2022, a target Sewing reiterated on Tuesday. Several have said that Deutsche Bank’s credit provisions in the first quarter may prove too low as peers in other countries put aside much higher amounts of money.Government ProgramSewing addressed those concerns, saying that the bank’s credit quality is strong compared with competitors, not least because of its conservative lending practices in the past and high exposure to Germany, where government aid has been particularly strong. Deutsche Bank’s credit provisions will likely continue to rise in the second quarter but still stay below those of the competition, he said.Sewing also said Deutsche Bank was on target or ahead of its restructuring program, and that he had no intention of letting the current environment derail it. One week ago, he resumed firings that he had suspended at the height of the crisis in March.Deutsche Bank shares extended gains, rising 6.2% at 4:25 p.m. in Frankfurt. The stock is the best performer this year among the large European lenders, adding 6% after years of declines.Sewing in July presented a sweeping restructuring plan to end half a decade of consecutive losses. He pulled the bank out of equities trading, promised to cut its headcount by 18,000, and fix its deficient controls. Fixed-income trading is expected to deliver a sizable chunk of the growth planned for the bank as negative interest rates continue to erode income from lending.The trading unit posted a 13% gain in revenue in the first quarter, as unprecedented volatility led to trading bonanzas across Wall Street. The increase was less than the average at U.S. competitors.(Updates with comments on loan-loss provisions from fifth paragraph.)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
UBS said on Monday it has created a new global financing team, a group that will span across divisions under one group in order to serve clients in a faster and simpler fashion. The new team will be led by Remi Mennesson, who will join the Swiss lender in November 2020, and report to the firm's four co-presidents, said a memo seen by Reuters and confirmed by the bank. One of the reasons for the creation of the new team was to align employees working in global wealth management, investment bank financing and risk management under one umbrella.
Deutsche Bank AG said on Friday it has asked more of its senior managers to waive one month of fixed pay in an effort to cut costs as Germany's largest lender deals with the fallout of the coronavirus crisis. "As our restructuring plans progress, the management board and the group management committee have decided to lead by example and give a broader group of senior managers the opportunity to be part of this initiative", Jörg Eigendorf, a spokesman for the bank, said in an emailed statement. Last week, it was revealed that the bank's top managers will waive one month of fixed pay after the publication of a speech text by Chief Executive Christian Sewing.
Deutsche Bank has asked hundreds of its top managers to waive a month’s salary in an act of “solidarity” to help share the pain as coronavirus wreaks unprecedented damage on the German economy. In a conference call on Thursday, several hundred of the bank’s designated “leaders”, including many of those one level below the senior management committee, were urged to take the voluntary pay cut, people familiar with the matter told the Financial Times. “As our restructuring plans progress, the management board and the group management committee have decided to lead by example and give a broader group of senior managers the opportunity to be part of this initiative,” said Deutsche in a statement.
Pomerantz LLP is investigating claims on behalf of investors of Deutsche Bank Aktiengesellschaft (“Deutsche Bank” or the “Company”) (NYSE: DB). Such investors are advised to contact Robert S. Willoughby at firstname.lastname@example.org or 888-476-6529, ext. The investigation concerns whether Deutsche Bank and certain of its officers and/or directors have engaged in securities fraud or other unlawful business practices.
NEW YORK, NY / ACCESSWIRE / May 21, 2020 / Bronstein, Gewirtz & Grossman, LLC is investigating potential claims on behalf of purchasers of Deutsche Bank Aktiengesellschaft ("Deutsche Bank" or ...
When the U.S. Department of Justice charged a handful of JP Morgan Chase & Co traders in 2018 and 2019 with alleged commodities futures manipulation, it wasn't the first time the government had probed the bank's metals trading activities. The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) investigated the same business as part of a similar probe of the silver market years earlier, but it was not able to build a case with the data it had at the time, according to U.S. court filings and a person with knowledge of the aborted probe. Since then, leaps in the agencies' data analysis capabilities have enabled them to detect and prosecute increasingly sophisticated forms of manipulation in the commodities futures markets which for decades have gone under-surveilled, according to ten officials and industry experts.
(Bloomberg) -- In early March, before the coronavirus pandemic triggered a global economic lockdown, SoftBank Group Corp. founder Masayoshi Son paid tribute to Rajeev Misra, the man who runs his $100 billion technology investment fund. Wearing a $70 Uniqlo down jacket, the Japanese billionaire put his arm around Misra’s shoulders at a town hall meeting in San Carlos, California. He said he would never forget the help Misra provided when he was at Deutsche Bank AG more than a decade earlier and spoke of the trust and respect they had developed since, according to a summary shared internally. “We are family,” Son said. But behind the smiles and talk of kinship, another story is unfolding, one about the perplexing relationship at the top of SoftBank. The Vision Fund this week reported a loss for the latest fiscal year of $17.7 billion as it wrote down the value of portfolio companies including WeWork and Uber Technologies Inc. That triggered the biggest loss in SoftBank’s 39-year history. Its shares have been hammered as investors fret that the virus will batter the company’s holdings even more, and Son has said he will sell $42 billion in assets.Misra is at the heart of the problem in ways that go beyond how the fund’s companies are performing, people familiar with the matter say. He has come under fire for alleged efforts to tarnish internal rivals, including a previously undisclosed clash with SoftBank Chief Operating Officer Marcelo Claure. The company has acknowledged that it’s conducting an internal review. At the same time, Elliott Management Corp., the activist investment fund that built up an almost $3 billion stake in the company, has asked SoftBank to name three independent directors and create a new board committee to improve the Vision Fund’s investment process, according to correspondence reviewed by Bloomberg News.“Misra and Masa go back a long way, but gratitude should only last so long,” said Justin Tang, head of Asian research at United First Partners in Singapore. “If Misra is not the problem, he’s at least a big part of it.”The corporate intrigue involving Claure began in 2018, when the Bolivian entrepreneur was under consideration to join the Vision Fund’s board and investment committee, according to six people with first-hand knowledge of the matter and a review of emails and documents. The fund — run by Misra as an affiliate of the Japanese company — hired a Swiss firm called Heptagone to conduct a background check on Claure’s possible ties to money laundering and drug cartels, said the people, who asked for anonymity because they feared retaliation. The report cleared him, but its focus opened a rift between the two men that kept Claure off the fund’s board and solidified Misra’s control, the people said.A Vision Fund spokesman said one of the fund’s limited partners, not Misra, requested the background check and Misra wasn’t involved in determining its focus. SoftBank has been told the same thing and doesn’t have evidence otherwise, people familiar with the matter say. But current and former executives across the SoftBank empire remain convinced that Misra played a role since the report was commissioned by his team and follows a pattern of similar accusations about undermining internal rivals. In March, days after the Wall Street Journal reported that Misra had allegedly orchestrated a campaign to sabotage two former SoftBank executives beginning in 2015, Son ducked questions about the story from investors at a meeting at the Lotte New York Palace hotel, according to two people who were present. One of them, a SoftBank shareholder, told Bloomberg News afterward that the company needs a Vision Fund leader more focused on tight operations than turf battles. Son has remained steadfast in his support. “Rajeev has been instrumental in the company’s growth and success,” Son said in a statement to Bloomberg. “He’s also been a very trusted senior executive and friend, and will continue to have my full support and confidence.” The Vision Fund spokesman denied that Misra was involved in any campaigns to undermine company executives. “The claims underpinning this story are untrue, and have been fully denied,” he said.But some SoftBank insiders are wondering how Misra has managed to survive. It may be, they said, that Son needs his financial expertise to navigate the next few months of asset sales, share buybacks and loan repayments as the coronavirus weakens portfolio companies, hurting SoftBank’s ability to borrow. Misra helped Son finance difficult deals before joining the company in 2014 and played a crucial role in raising capital for the Vision Fund. He has also established his own power base at the fund’s London headquarters, surrounded by a coterie of former Deutsche Bank colleagues.Still, there are long-term risks for Son in tolerating what many see as a divisive culture and chaotic infighting that have plagued the Vision Fund since its inception. “Misra personifies what Vision Fund is about — a bunch of dealmakers obsessed with leverage who have no business running a venture capital fund,” said Amir Anvarzadeh, a market strategist at Asymmetric Advisors in Singapore, who has been covering the company since it went public in 1994. “But it would be naïve to put all of their problems at Misra’s feet. Son has the ultimate word.” Son and Misra share a bond as outsiders who left their native lands to study abroad and ended up finding wealth and prestige. Son, 62, went to the University of California, Berkeley and launched businesses in the U.S. before founding SoftBank in Japan in 1981. Misra, 58 and born in India, earned degrees from the University of Pennsylvania and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology before embarking on a career in banking at Merrill Lynch.But while Son never worked for anyone else, Misra always operated within large organizations, navigating their power structures. He moved to Deutsche Bank in 1997, where he eventually became global head of credit trading, turning it into one of the biggest traders of credit-default swaps — instruments at the heart of the 2008 financial crisis. One of his traders, Greg Lippmann, featured in Michael Lewis’s The Big Short, bet on a crash in the U.S. housing market, even as Deutsche Bank was a leading player in creating and selling mortgage-backed securities to investors. With slicked-back hair and a thicket of woven bracelets around his wrist, Misra speaks with an intimacy that suggests he’s confiding in a listener as he races from one subject to the next with a burning urgency. He wears his eccentricities proudly: He often padded around the office in stockinged feet, incessantly smoking, vaping or chewing nicotine gum.Misra joined SoftBank after stints at UBS Group AG and Fortress Investment Group. He started as head of strategic finance, reporting directly to Son, but his connections to the boss preceded his appointment. In 2006, Deutsche Bank helped SoftBank finance the acquisition of the Japanese wireless operations of Vodafone Group Plc, one of the most consequential deals of Son’s career. The $15 billion purchase was the largest leveraged buyout ever in Asia at the time and faced skepticism because Vodafone had struggled against the country’s top wireless players. Son succeeded in turning the business into a viable competitor, in part by persuading Steve Jobs to give him exclusive rights to the iPhone in Japan, and completing SoftBank’s transformation from software distributor to telecom conglomerate.Misra proved his worth at SoftBank as well. Son had acquired the troubled No. 3 wireless operator in the U.S., Sprint Corp., but the turnaround had proven far more difficult than the one at Vodafone. Misra put together a novel loan package secured by Sprint’s wireless licenses that helped it avoid bankruptcy.From the start, Misra clashed with Nikesh Arora, a hotshot former Google executive Son recruited in 2014 to oversee SoftBank’s startup investing, according to people with direct knowledge of their relationship. Arora would openly question Misra’s judgment, even on financial issues, leaving him fuming, the people said.In early 2015, Misra set out to undermine Arora and one of his allies at SoftBank, Alok Sama, the Wall Street Journal reported in February. The newspaper said Misra worked through intermediaries to plant negative stories about the executives, concocted a shareholder campaign against them and attempted unsuccessfully to lure Arora into a sexual tryst. “These are old allegations which contain a series of falsehoods that have been consistently denied,” a spokesman for Misra told Bloomberg News, adding that Misra thinks highly of Arora and that the two men worked together productively on many deals. “Mr. Misra did not orchestrate a campaign against his former colleagues.” A spokesman for the Wall Street Journal said the paper stands by its reporting.Arora was cleared of wrongdoing by SoftBank, but he left in 2016 and is now chief executive officer of Palo Alto Networks Inc. Sama, who had been in charge of SoftBank’s investments and inked many of its early startup deals, seemed a logical candidate to play a leading role at the Vision Fund. But some of the limited partners expressed reservations about him, people familiar with the matter said. Arora didn’t respond to requests for comment, and an attorney for Sama declined to comment.Meanwhile, Misra solidified his ties to Son. He spent time in Tokyo in early 2017 as Son worked on the acquisition of Fortress. He also used his former Deutsche Bank connections to help close a deal for Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund to become the Vision Fund’s cornerstone investor, chipping in $45 billion, almost half of the capital. That May, Misra was named head of the Vision Fund. The clash with Claure began after Sama was sidelined, according to SoftBank executives familiar with the matter. Son hit it off with Claure in 2013, when SoftBank took a majority stake in Brightstar, a Miami-based mobile phone distributor he founded that became one of Latin America’s fastest-growing startups. The 6-foot-6 executive quickly demonstrated how SoftBank could save millions on its purchases, winning respect from his new boss. A year later, Son tapped him to replace Sprint’s CEO. Claure made enough progress fixing the wireless operator that Son rewarded him with a seat on SoftBank’s board in 2017 and named him chief operating officer the following year. Then, Son gave Claure a new challenge: building teams in government affairs, legal services and operations to support the company’s expanding portfolio. Part of the mission was to assemble and lead a task force that would help startups fine-tune their strategies to improve execution and speed their path to profitability. The mandate would place him at the center of the action as SoftBank transformed itself into a technology investment conglomerate. It also apparently put Claure on a collision course with Misra.The first hint that this might not be a typical corporate rivalry came months before the Heptagone investigation, according to a person close to Claure. In the summer of 2018, Stephen Bye, a former Sprint executive, reached out to Claure with unsettling news. Bye, Sprint’s chief technology officer until 2015, was approached by a private investigator trying to dig up dirt on his former boss, the person said. Bye declined to talk to the investigator and immediately called Claure. Claure, 49, was used to people poking into his past because he was often approached about joining corporate boards. But he had also heard speculation about Misra’s role in the campaigns against Arora and Sama, and he expressed concern that he was next, the person said. The Vision Fund spokesman said neither Misra nor anyone else from the fund was involved in the approach to Claure’s former employee. Bye declined to comment.In October 2018, after the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi at the hands of Saudi agents, Son and Misra traveled to Riyadh to meet with officials of the sovereign wealth fund, their biggest investor. They made the trip during the Saudi fund’s annual investment conference, even as other global executives canceled their travel plans. While the two men didn’t attend the conference, Son met with the head of the Public Investment Fund, Yasir Al-Rumayyan, and laid out the new role he envisioned for Claure. He would join the Vision Fund board and its investment committee, and manage the group of operations specialists when it was embedded within the fund, according to a proposal reviewed by Bloomberg News. The changes, if implemented, would give Claure broad authority at the fund.Later that year the Vision Fund commissioned the Heptagone report. What made it different from routine due diligence, according to the people directly involved, was that the sleuths were asked to answer three specific questions: Was Claure or any company under his control ever involved in money laundering, tax evasion or fraud? Was he ever in a relationship with individuals charged with or convicted of money laundering, drug trafficking or other crimes? Had he been convicted of a crime in the U.S. or elsewhere? Claure’s company, Brightstar, generated enormous amounts of cash selling used phones in Latin America in the 1990s, exactly the kind of business that could be used for money laundering, Heptagone’s report said. But the report found no evidence Brightstar or Claure were involved in such activities, people who saw it said.Heptagone went on to say that Claure had a long-standing friendship with Carlos Becerra, a San Diego businessman whose name had appeared in U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency reports for possible involvement in cocaine distribution and money laundering. After Becerra sold a unit of his company to Brightstar, in 2007, the two men remained friendly. A photo on Becerra’s Instagram account from June 2015 showed him posing on a boat dock with Claure. Becerra, who hadn’t been charged with a drug-related crime, told Bloomberg News that his relationship with Claure was cordial, not close. He denied any involvement in money laundering or drug dealing and said he has held a California liquor license since 2001, which requires a background check and isn’t available to anyone with a criminal record. The closest Claure came to a crime, the Heptagone report found, was his involvement in a Miami bar fight in the 1990s in which no one was hurt and he wasn’t charged. Heptagone co-founder and managing partner Alexis Pfefferlé said he couldn’t confirm or deny his firm’s involvement in any report but added that Heptagone “has always been able to fully complete its assignments.”The Vision Fund spokesman said the fund often runs background checks on employees, so it wasn’t abnormal to conduct one on Claure, given his potential involvement in operations. The only thing atypical, he said, was that it came at the request of a limited partner. While the Heptagone report cleared Claure, its underlying premise appeared to be that a Latin American entrepreneur must have built his business through unsavory means, according to the people who reviewed the document. Claure was furious. He went to Son, outraged at what he saw as an attempt to damage his reputation, the people said. SoftBank took over the due diligence from the Vision Fund and gave the job to Kroll, a more established security firm, the people said. Kroll, which declined to comment, found no problems in Claure’s past. But suspicious that Misra was behind the campaign, Claure told Son he wanted no formal part of the Vision Fund, the people said. Son ultimately decided to keep the two out of each other’s way. In February 2019, about 40 employees Claure had hired were shifted over to work for Misra. Claure, who had moved his wife and four youngest daughters to Tokyo less than two months earlier, headed back to Miami. He has since helped close Sprint’s merger with T-Mobile US Inc. and is leading the effort to turn around WeWork. He also oversees a Latin American investment fund for SoftBank and co-owns a Major League Soccer team, Inter Miami, with former British star David Beckham. SoftBank denied that Claure and Misra clashed over the operations group and said both men agreed that folding it into the Vision Fund was in the best interests of the business. “While we have had our occasional differences,” Claure said in a statement, “I have a close and collaborative relationship with Rajeev, including my involvement with many of the Vision Fund’s largest portfolio companies.” The relationships Misra forged at Deutsche Bank continue to underpin his power and influence. Colin Fan, a former co-head of the investment bank, moved to SoftBank in 2017, joining more than half a dozen former bankers and traders from the German lender. But arguably the most important connection forged at Deutsche Bank is Misra’s relationship with London-based merchant bank Centricus, founded by three former Misra colleagues: Michele Faissola, Dalinc Ariburnu and Nizar Al-Bassam. The firm, originally called FAB Partners for the principals’ last names, began working with SoftBank in 2016, when Misra asked it to help find financing for the Vision Fund. Centricus advised on the creation and structure of the fund, suggested employees and helped cement the investment by the Saudi sovereign wealth fund — a deal hashed out in October of that year when Mohammed bin Salman, then the country’s deputy crown prince, met with Son in Tokyo.For its work, Centricus negotiated a payment of more than $100 million, people familiar with the arrangement said. And the fees kept coming. Centricus advised SoftBank on its $3.3 billion deal for Fortress and teamed up with Son on a failed bid to start a 24-team soccer tournament with FIFA. The firm also was brought in to help raise capital for a second Vision Fund, Bloomberg reported in mid-2019.Some SoftBank and Vision Fund executives have questioned the amount paid to Centricus, the people with knowledge of the arrangement said. Although fees for helping companies raise capital are often about 1%, making the sum paid to Centricus a good deal for SoftBank, executives critical of Misra’s leadership were piqued that the recipients were former Deutsche Bank colleagues, the people said. Centricus and SoftBank both declined to comment about fees or any other aspect of their relationship.Faissola left the firm after his connections with the Qatari government created tension with the Saudis. But Centricus hired another former Deutsche Bank colleague of Misra’s as a consultant: London-based hedge fund manager Bertrand Des Pallieres, a senior trader at the bank from 2005 to 2007 who reported directly to Misra. Des Pallieres was under consideration for a job at the Vision Fund in 2018, the people said, but that all changed after the Wall Street Journal reported that Misra had recruited Italian businessman Alessandro Benedetti to undermine Arora and Sama. Benedetti, who denied through a spokesman that he had anything to do with those efforts, was a business associate of Des Pallieres. A year later, Des Pallieres became a Centricus consultant.SoftBank’s relationship with Centricus began fraying last year, according to people familiar with the matter. Misra argued that SoftBank had no further need for the firm, as Son had developed ties of his own with MBS, the people said. And Misra had his own relationship with Al-Rumayyan, the Saudi sovereign wealth fund head. In October 2019, Misra and Son attended a party for Al-Rumayyan and MBS on a yacht in the Red Sea, people with knowledge of the event said, confirming a Wall Street Journal account.By then, SoftBank had hired Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Cantor Fitzgerald LP to help search for new investors. Some SoftBank executives were surprised by Cantor’s involvement, as the New York-based bank had little experience sourcing investments for initiatives like the Vision Fund. But Cantor’s president since 2017 has been former Deutsche Bank co-CEO Anshu Jain, a onetime boss and childhood friend of Misra’s.The Saudis have held off committing capital to a second Vision Fund, and Son this week said he had to stop raising money because of difficulties with WeWork and other investments. SoftBank stepped in to save WeWork last year after its failed initial public offering and put Claure in charge of turning the business around. But the coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated the challenges of drawing people to co-working spaces.“Vision Fund’s results are not something to be proud of,” Son said at somber press conference in Tokyo on Monday, with reporters and analysts calling in remotely because of the pandemic. “If the results are bad, you can’t raise money from investors.”Elliott, the fund run by billionaire Paul Singer, has pressed for changes, and Misra has been involved in those talks, according to people with knowledge of the discussions. He has met frequently with Singer’s son Gordon, the people said. But two people familiar with Elliott’s operations say the firm has asked SoftBank to get to the bottom of Misra’s alleged involvement in campaigns against his colleagues and has expressed dismay at the infighting among top managers and how much of that spills into the press. A spokeswoman for Elliott denies that the company is pushing for an investigation, and a SoftBank spokesman said Son hasn’t received such a request.SoftBank’s board probed who was behind the campaigns against Arora and Sama but didn’t uncover any definitive evidence, people with knowledge of the matter said. While the company has said it’s looking into the most recent Wall Street Journal allegations, several senior executives have downplayed their significance. Ron Fisher, a SoftBank director, called the February story “another example of people anonymously spreading misinformation and innuendo about our executives,” according to an email to Vision Fund managing partners.SoftBank's board has lost several of its most independent voices in recent years, the kind of directors who could question his decisions. Shigenobu Nagamori, the outspoken founder of motor maker Nidec Corp., stepped down in 2017. Fast Retailing Co. CEO Tadashi Yanai, who had been on the board since 2001 and was a rare voice of dissent, left at the end of 2019. On the same day SoftBank announced its record losses this week, Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma announced he would leave the board too, after 13 years. Two new independent directors were nominated — Cadence Design Systems Inc. CEO Lip-Bu Tan and Waseda University professor Yuko Kawamoto.Misra’s fate is ultimately intertwined with the Vision Fund, which Son once declared would be the foundation of a new SoftBank but now risks becoming one of his worst missteps. The fund declared quarter after quarter of profit after its inception in 2017, as it marked up the value of startups and booked paper profits. But since the WeWork fiasco, it has lost all of that money and more. The structure of the fund — Misra’s invention — will create another squeeze. About $40 billion of the money raised from outside investors is in the form of preferred shares that pay about 7% a year. The idea is that SoftBank would see extra profits if the Vision Fund hit it big, but it also means losses are amplified. Venture capital funds typically don’t have such liabilities to avoid the risks of such a volatile business. Misra has been on something of a publicity tour recently to defend his reputation, although he declined to comment for this story. In an interview with CNBC published in March, he said that the Vision Fund’s mistakes are surfacing early and its portfolio will be redeemed in 18 to 24 months. “I’m so, so positive I’ll prove people wrong,” he said. He also vowed he wouldn’t leave the fund. “I owe it to my stakeholders, my LPs, my employees to be here for the journey,” he said. The Vision Fund spokesman denied Misra said the portfolio would recover that quickly. In the end, what SoftBank decides to do about Misra, if anything, depends on Son. His business is under intense pressure, putting even his deepest loyalties to the test. “At a company like SoftBank, where the founder runs the business, that person has to take responsibility for the ethics and the standards for behavior within the company,” said Parissa Haghirian, a professor of international management at Sophia University in Tokyo who specializes in Japanese corporate culture. “If you are not clear about this, then everybody sets their own rules.” For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
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