TOKYO, Japan – The SoftBank Group’s shares plummeted by 4.2% during Thursday’s trading in Tokyo. It was the most significant intraday decline in the past month and came on the heels of the company’s admission that their third-quarter loss was worse than they expected.
The Nikkei remained mostly flat during the afternoon trading while South Korea’s Kospi Index went down by 0.1%. Meanwhile, the Hang Seng Index of Hong Kong dropped 0.4%. The Shanghai Composite was in similar straits as it also fell by 0.2%.
SoftBank admitted to a massive $6.5 billion (704.4 billion Yen) operating loss after the market closed on Wednesday. It was the biggest loss the Japanese conglomerate experienced in 14 years. It is also the largest quarterly shortfall in its history.
The decline came after the writedowns in WeWork, and its other investments came to light. According to a Wall Street Journal report, both SoftBank and Vision Fund wrote down about $8.2 billion on WeWork. Meanwhile, Vision Fund also wrote down its investments in over 20 companies, including Uber.
So far, Vision Fund has lost 970.3 billion yen. It’s a surprising development, considering the $100 billion investment fund was always generating huge profits. SoftBank did rally by mid-morning and recovered some of its losses. It was the last trading down around 2.5%.
SoftBank’s founder and CEO, Masayoshi Son, acknowledged during a briefing on Wednesday that the company’s earnings were indeed “a mess.” He also admitted that investing in WeWork was a mistake and that he turned a “blind eye” to how the office space rental firm was managed.
Son said his “judgment in investment” was wrong and that he learned a hard lesson from WeWork’s failed IPO attempt.
SoftBank and its Vision Fund sunk more than $10 billion on WeWork before its planned IPO in September. It boosted the firm’s valuation to $47 billion. However, WeWork abandoned its plan when investors became wary of buying shares.
Despite Son’s admission that WeWork’s problems had a significant impact on the company, he defended his decisions during the two-hour meeting. He spent time emphasizing the potential his technological investments have and the returns they can provide.
The CEO also declared he wasn’t abandoning his business strategy, which was to invest large sums into successful technology startups.
Son is notorious for refusing to back down and pressuring company founders to accept funds higher than what they need. The strategy has already raised fears of a possible bubble in the valuation of startups.
Son also revealed that fundraising for a new iteration of the Vision Fund was being prepared and will be rolled out soon.