FirstFT: Masayoshi Son owes SoftBank $4.7bn


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Masayoshi Son personally owes SoftBank close to $5bn because of growing losses on the Japanese conglomerate’s technology bets, which have also rendered the value of his stake in the group’s second Vision Fund worthless.

The billionaire’s ballooning personal liabilities, discovered through a Financial Times analysis of SoftBank’s recent filings, comes as the world’s biggest tech investor was hammered by plunging tech stocks and valuations in private companies over the past year.

The 65-year-old chief executive and founder of SoftBank last week said he would step back from running day-to-day operations at SoftBank. His main focus, he said, would be on the company’s British chip subsidiary Arm, after the technology conglomerate posted quarterly investment losses of $10bn.

The widening losses in SoftBank’s various investment vehicles have also added billions of dollars to the tab that SoftBank’s founder owes the group in relation to its technology bets. This is because SoftBank fronted Son the money to invest in its technology-related funds, which he is under no obligation to repay for many years.

1. G20: Japan and China agree to improve strained ties In their first in-person meeting, Fumio Kishida and Xi Jinping agreed to try to improve relations between their nations, even as Japan’s prime minister expressed “grave concerns” about China’s military activities in the region.

  • More from the summit: Xi Jinping’s carefully choreographed return to the global stage took an unprecedented turn on the final day of the G20 summit as he upbraided Canada’s prime minister for allegedly leaking the contents of a conversation between the two leaders.

2. New FTX chief details extent of corporate failure The new chief executive of FTX, an insolvency professional who oversaw the liquidation of Enron, has said that the bankruptcy of the crypto group is the worst case of corporate failure he has seen in more than 40 years.

3. Guangzhou struggles to rein in record Covid outbreak A Covid-19 outbreak in one of China’s biggest cities is on a knife edge following public protests and intense political debate among top officials over conflicting guidance from Beijing on how to handle the record surge in cases.

  • The impact of zero-Covid: Alibaba reported sluggish growth in the third quarter as the ecommerce giant continues to feel the effects of China’s lockdowns, which have hammered economic growth and consumer spending.

4. Saudi Aramco leads Riyadh’s investment push into South Korea Saudi Aramco has announced a $7bn investment in a petrochemical factory in South Korea, as part of a $30bn package of agreements between Riyadh and Seoul as Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman forges closer partnerships in Asia.

5. Three found guilty of murder over roles in downing of flight MH17 A court in the Netherlands has found three men with links to the Russian military guilty of murder for their roles in the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine in 2014, sentencing them to life imprisonment.

How well did you keep up with the news this week? Take our quiz.

The days ahead

COP27 draws to a close The UN climate change conference in Sharm el-Sheikh draws to a close today, but negotiations are likely to continue through the weekend.

Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Economic Leaders’ Meeting Heads of state from 21 nations including China, Japan, Russia and the US will gather in Bangkok, Thailand today.

Elections in Asia and the Middle East Malaysia goes to the polls on Saturday, and on Sunday the Nepalese will vote for parliamentary and provincial government seats. Also on Sunday, Kazakhstan’s general election will represent the most significant constitutional change since it declared independence from the former Soviet Union. (Nikkei)

Fifa World Cup The tournament is set to kick off with a game between host country Qatar and Ecuador on Sunday at 7pm in Doha. To say this is likely to be a contentious tournament would be something of an understatement. Our weekly Scoreboard newsletter will be devoted to the World Cup over the next four weeks. Premium subscribers can sign up here.

What else we’re reading

Australia’s defence dilemma Competition between China and the US in the Indo-Pacific is driving the biggest military build-up anywhere in the world over the past 70 years. Australia, however, has a difficult line to tread as it strengthens military ties with European and American allies while trying to cool tensions with Beijing.


Iraq reels from $2.5bn tax ‘heist of the century’ For almost a year, armoured vehicles carrying hundreds of thousands of Iraqi dinar bills have wound their way through Baghdad’s busy streets on a weekly basis. The trucks, laden with tax funds siphoned off from state-owned bank Rafidain, were allegedly pulling off in broad daylight what has since been dubbed Iraq’s “heist of the century”.

Ireland learns of its over-reliance on big tech Mass global job cuts at Meta, Twitter, Stripe and other technology giants are bitter news for their staff in Dublin, coming just before Christmas. But analysts said they were a “wake-up call” for the side-effects of Ireland’s over-dependence on big tech.

New military tech is the surprise twist in Ukraine’s gutsy defence The collapse of Sam Bank-Friedman’s FTX empire this month has visibly damaged other crypto players. But it has also had another, less obvious, impact: on a network of Ukraine-linked technologists, writes Gillian Tett

The true believers saving tequila If you lift the lid off decades of marketing and misunderstanding, tequila is actually one of the most interesting spirits you’ll find behind the bar. It’s time it finally got its due, writes Lilah Raptopoulos.


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