SoftBank posts third-quarter profit gain as Vision Fund rallies

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Pedestrians walk past signage for SoftBank Group outside a store in Tokyo, Japan, Nov. 29, 2018.
Kiyoshi Ota | Bloomberg | Getty Images

SoftBank Group Corp on Monday recorded an 844 billion yen ($8 billion) profit at its Vision Fund unit in the three months to Dec. 31 versus a loss a year ago as it gained from investments in Uber Technologies and other companies.

The earnings mark a sea change from a year earlier when high profile misses such as the flopped IPO of office sharing firm WeWork and the Covid-19 pandemic forced CEO Masayoshi Son to sell down assets to stabilize his investing empire.

With interest rates at rock bottom, an ebullient market is driving tech stock gains and turnaround at the Vision Fund unit. During the quarter Softbank-backed food delivery app operator Doordash and home selling platform Opendoor went public.

Almost half of the first Vision Fund's portfolio was exited or listed at the end of December, offering liquidity to the fund whose backers include the sovereign wealth funds of Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi.

The $100 billion Vision Fund's 82 investments were valued at $90 billion, compared with their purchase price of $76.3 billion. The fund has also recorded $20.4 billion in gross gains since inception.

Vision Fund 2's 26 investments were valued at $9.3 billion compared with their purchase price of $4.3 billion.

Softbank's trading unit SB Northstar disclosed stakes in listed tech stocks including Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co worth $22 billion at the end of December.

It recorded a 169.8 billion yen loss on its investments during the quarter.

During the third quarter net profit ballooned more than 20 times to 1.17 trillion yen ($11.09 billion). That compared with an estimate of 171 billion yen from four analysts polled by Refinitiv SmartEstimate.

Softbank Vision Fund managing partner on Opendoor SPAC