SoftBank Mulls Vision Fund IPO

Initial Public Offering

In an age where companies of seemingly every stripe are coming public, SoftBank Group is reportedly mulling an initial public offering (IPO) of its $100 billion Vision Fund.

In addition to that possible listing, according to The Wall Street Journal, SoftBank is also considering a number of “audacious” fundraising plans, which would embrace, among other activities, a launch of a second fund “at least” the size of the current Vision Fund. The company is in the midst of talking to banks in order to raise that capital. If launched, the new fund would have two classes, one with less risk and marked by fixed returns. The other would have more risk, but pay holders beyond a “minimum profit,” according to reports.

That IPO-and-new-fund strategy was detailed by unnamed “people familiar with the matter.” Amid the consideration for a public listing, the fund’s managers, along with Founder and CEO Masayoshi Son, are also in the midst of seeking more investments for the Vision Fund. In one example, negotiations are underway for investments of “several billion dollars” for the fund from the sultanate of Oman. That investment would come on the heels of previous investments from Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi.

The deal pace is so frenetic, and investments are being committed so quickly, said the Journal, that Son has returned from China, where capital the company does not yet have has already been committed, according to one of the unnamed sources.

“The Vision Fund had planned to invest its money over four years,” noted the financial publication, “but will have done so in just over two [years].” There will be at least some money spigot loosening as investments tied to Uber and WeWork will be accessible in the wake of IPOs.

The possible IPO of the Vision Fund will take place after the vehicle is fully invested, and might result in a creation of a publicly-listed company similar to Berkshire Hathaway (and of course accessible to retail investors, now able to ostensibly act as venture capital investors) with a decidedly tech company focus.