SoftBank Founder Masayoshi Son Steps Down From Alibaba’s Board

The Japanese billionaire said he is “graduating” from his most successful investment.
Belinda ZhouJun 26,2020,06:55

SoftBank Group Corp. founder Masayoshi Son announced on Thursday in Tokyo that he would resign from the board of Alibaba Group (NYSE: BABA; HKEX: 9988).

The Korean-Japanese billionaire technology investor said in SoftBank’s annual shareholder meeting that he is “graduating” from his most successful investment of Alibaba to date as a board member after 15 years.

Thursday also saw Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba’s co-founder Jack Ma himself officially quitted SoftBank’s board after 13-year-service, which was announced on May 18.

Son insisted that there hadn’t been any disagreements between him and Ma.

After Son’s resignation, SoftBank still has the right to appoint one person to the board of Alibaba, but the seat so far has been vacant.

In 2000, Softbank invested $20 million in Alibaba only one year after its establishment in Hangzhou and further increased its bet. By the time Alibaba debuted on the New York Stock Exchange in 2014, the value of Alibaba shares held by Softbank had skyrocketed by approximately 2,900 times.

SoftBank has never sold Alibaba shares since 2016. On May 18, Son said that SoftBank will sell $11.5 billion in Alibaba shares to fund its shares repurchase program.

Alibaba is now worth roughly $600 billion, higher than SoftBank’s $104 billion market capitalization as of Thursday. Son also said in his announcement that the Japanese giant’s potential shareholder value should be $218 billion.

Alibaba enjoyed skyrocketing sales during the 618 Shopping Festival this month, with its gross merchandise value of $98.52 billion, up 163% from Singles Day last year, as Chinese consumer consumption is being picked up. Total retail sales of consumer goods in China fell by 2.8% year-over-year in May. 

SoftBank invested other Chinese companies in New York. OneConnect Financial Technology Co. Ltd. (NYSE: OCFT) was also backed by SoftBank and provides tech solutions in the financial sector. The company sold 31.2 million ADSs at $10 each in New York in December last year.

Beijing-based unicorn robot developer CloudMinds Inc., backed by SoftBank, filed in August last year to seek a $500 million initial public offering under the ticker symbol “CMDS” in New York but delayed its IPO.

Shares in Alibaba closed at $222.02 per ADS on Thursday, down 2% and the stock price of OneConnect Financial closed at $18.08 per ADS.