SoftBank Group Chairman and CEO Masayoshi Son said today that he is glad regulators around the world rejected SoftBank's sale of British chip designer ARM to Nvidia, because the company now wants to use ARM's listing to boost its stock price.
"ARM is the cutting edge engine of the information revolution." "It is the core of the core of the SoftBank group," Mr. Son said at the annual shareholder meeting.
Son devoted a large portion of his presentation to ARM, which dominates the global semiconductor design industry, explaining how it is slowly gaining market share in areas such as cloud computing and automobiles. "ARM will drive all kinds of information revolution, not just the smartphone revolution." He said.
This is in stark contrast to SoftBank shareholder meetings in past years. In previous shareholder meetings, Masayoshi Son will spend a lot of time to explain the vision fund. It also partly reflects significant changes in the global technology market.
SoftBank posted its biggest-ever loss in the year to March, with a net loss of y1.7tn ($12.6bn) for the year, as valuations of its technology investments plummeted. That followed a record y5,000bn net profit the year before.
Global ipos have fallen more than 50 per cent this year as inflation fears weigh on investment in technology stocks. A number of companies backed by SoftBank, including Chinese drone maker Geofai and Israeli trading platform eToro, have either written down assets or postponed their listings.
After SoftBank announced its results last month, Mr Son said he would slow the pace of investment.
ARM, which SoftBank bought for $31 billion in 2016, is now SoftBank's best hope. SoftBank's revenues rose 35 per cent in the year to March from a year earlier, helped by rising shipments of 5G smartphones and telecoms equipment. Mr. Son is also trying to clear the IPO hurdle, saying in May that it was his main concern in the near term. ARM's Joint venture in China recently resolved a key management issue that had plagued it for two years.
SoftBank already has high hopes for a smooth IPO, having secured an $8 billion loan against ARM shares.
Mr Son said SoftBank had kept its net debt to net asset value below 25 per cent in an effort to control market risk and had enough cash on hand to cover bonds maturing in two years. "Because of the uncertainty in the market right now." "Our cash position is much higher than usual," he said.