Japan’s Richest Person Promises More ‘Golden Eggs’ After Fund Posts Best Quarter Yet

SoftBank Group Chairman and CEO Masayoshi Son speaks during a press conference on May 9, 2019 in … [+]

Japanese billionaire Masayoshi Son, the founder and chairman of SoftBank Group, wants his investment funds to produce between 10 and 20 “golden eggs” a year. Son likes to compare his SoftBank Group to a goose that lays golden eggs by accelerating the growth of promising companies until they go public. He often points to Alibaba and Yahoo! as early successes that led to more recent investments in companies like Uber and DoorDash.

“We have about 160 eggs in the goose,” Son said during a news conference on Monday, referring to SoftBank’s investments in 164 late-stage companies across three different funds. And many of those are “finally in the harvesting stage,” he added.

SoftBank’s net profit of ¥1.17 trillion ($11 billion) for the quarter ended December was largely the result of investment gains of $13 billion from the group’s two Vision Funds.

SoftBank’s signature Vision Fund I posted its best performance since its launch in 2017, as the global rally in tech stocks buoyed the value of SoftBank’s portfolio.

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The results announced Monday will help to deflect some of the recent criticism aimed at the contrarian investor, after shares plunged in March and left Son’s flagship Vision Fund with almost a $17 billion investment loss for the year ended that month.

“Just about a year ago, many mass media were actually saying that we are only laying rotten eggs,” Son said.

More on Forbes: Exclusive Interview: Masayoshi Son Talks WeWork, Vision Fund And SoftBank Under Siege

SoftBank unveiled a major restructuring that involved offloading a portion of its public investments as part of a $41 billion plan to pay down its debt and fund share buybacks. The divestments included part of its stake in Alibaba, a company SoftBank held for 14 years before it went public. The Chinese e-commerce giant still accounts for over half the value of SoftBank’s holdings.

“Tactically, I’ve made regrets,” Son said during an interview with Forbes in March. “But strategically, I am unchanged. Vision-wise? Unchanged.”

As SoftBank seeks to continue harvesting its gains, many of the startups in its portfolio may seek public listings in the markets this year. Son’s Vision Fund currently holds investments in ride-sharing firm Grab, Korean e-commerce leader Coupang, TikTok parent ByteDance as well as India’s Paytm.

Son’s personal fortune has also made a dramatic turnaround on the back of SoftBank’s share price, which has soared nearly 240% since mid-March, reaching its highest level since the dot-com era. His net worth is currently estimated at $45.5 billion on Forbes Real-Time Billionaires list, making him the richest person in Japan.

A slide from Masayoshi Son’s presentation during SoftBank’s press conference on February 8, 2020.

I’m a senior editor based in Hong Kong. I’ve been reporting on Asia’s wealthiest people for Forbes and Bloomberg for about a decade. Previously, I worked with British

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