- Japanese conglomerate and tech investor SoftBank is under scrutiny over its ties to Saudi Arabia, a major backer of its $US100 billion Vision Fund.
- That is thanks to global outcry over the status of missing Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who is feared dead after he was last seen entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.
- Saudi Arabia’s crown prince pledged $US45 billion to SoftBank’s next $US100 billion Vision Fund.
- SoftBank COO Marcelo Claure said on Tuesday the company was “anxiously” watching the Khashoggi situation.
Japanese conglomerate SoftBank is under intense scrutiny over its plans to raise a second $US100 billion technology investment fund with $US45 billion from Saudi Arabia.
SoftBank is already one of the world’s biggest tech investors through its first Vision Fund, and has boasted of plans to raise multiple $US100 billion funds. Its current backers including Apple, Foxconn, Qualcomm, and Saudia Arabia.
Saudi Arabia crown prince Mohammed bin Salman told Bloomberg earlier this month that the country’s sovereign wealth fund would put $US45 billion into the second Vision Fund.
That relationship is looking more problematic thanks to global outcry over the fate of missing Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was last seen entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2 and is now feared dead. Turkish authorities have said they have evidence the journalist was murdered.
That has prompted a rethink among businesses about their deep financial ties to Saudi Arabia.
Speaking at a conference in California on Tuesday, SoftBank Chief Operating Officer Marcelo Claure said the Japanese firm was “anxiously looking at what is happening” at the situation with Khashoggi.
He said: “We like most parties in the world are looking at events unfold. Based on that, we will make decisions in the future, but at this point in time like most companies that have relationships with Saudi Arabia we are watching developments and see where this goes.”
Neither Claure nor the company is commenting on whether SoftBank may sever its financial ties to the Kingdom. Separately, Claure said “there is no certainty” that SoftBank would launch a second Vision Fund, though this is not thought to be directly connected to concerns over Khashoggi.
SoftBank chief executive Masayoshi Son has yet to speak out publicly about Khashoggi and, according to media reports, he is still due to attend a Saudi investor summit from which many investors and policymakers have distanced themselves,including Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi and Richard Branson.
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