Masayoshi Son, President and Chief Executive Officer of SoftBank Group Corp., reacts during a dialogue session with Jack Ma, former chairman of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., which was not featured on Friday, December 6 at the Tokyo Forum 2019 in Tokyo, Japan had gone. , 2019.
Kiyoshi Ota | Bloomberg via Getty Image
Softbank CEO and founder Masayoshi Son said he aggressively sold assets to prepare for the “worst case scenario” this year, which could fall in the second wave of the world’s coronovirus outbreak.
Son virtually spoke to Tokyo on Tuesday at The New York Times’ DealBook Conference. He said that he had initially targeted asset sales of about $ 40 billion this year, but sold them to companies worth about $ 80 billion to provide liquidity to the company in case of a global emergency.
“In the next two or three months, any disaster can happen,” Son said. “So we are preparing for the worst situation.”
Among its biggest asset sales, SoftBank sold semiconductor company ARM to Nvidia for $ 40 billion and its stake in the new T-Mobile is about $ 20 billion, which merged with Sprint earlier this year . If the market dips, SoftBank could use the money to buy undisclosed assets, reduce its portfolio investment in SoftBank Vision Fund, or buy more stocks, Son said.
Although Son did not reveal what the “disaster” might be likely to be in the coming months, he called for the 2008 collapse of Lehman Brothers to explain how an event could be the catalyst for a widespread recession.
“Anything can happen in a situation like this,” Son said. “Of course, the medical vaccine is coming. But who knows in the next two or three months?”
Son declined to comment twice on the possibility of Softbank taking a private – an idea The Financial Times reported earlier this year that Son has considered. Softbank has aggressively repurchased the stock to take advantage of market discounts relative to the value of several underlying assets, with the advice of activist shareholder Elliott Management. SoftBank’s Vision Fund holds stakes in more than 80 different technology companies.
If the son aggressively wanted to buy back even more stock, he could effectively make Tech-Private much easier as he increased his stake in the outstanding shares.
Son also said he found it “sad” that the Trump administration threatened to shut down Tickcock in the US over suspected national security threats. He said that the largest US technology companies should not be broken up simply because their market valuation is large. Softbank has invested in some of the largest US technology companies in recent months.
“Just being big and powerful doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing,” Son said.
Watch: Softbank’s Massa Son: We want to be prepared for the worst