Tuesday 10 November 2020 11:16 am

Softbank ‘considers moving Vision Fund’ from London to Abu Dhabi

Japanese tech investment giant Softbank is reportedly considering moving the unit that manages its $100bn (£75.6bn) Vision Fund from London to Abu Dhabi. 

The move has been under discussion for several weeks, the Financial Times reported, citing people with knowledge of the talks. 

The relocation of Softbank Investment Advisors, which manages the Vision Fund, is said to be being considered for a number of reasons, including a desire to lower the unit’s taxes. 

It would also move the unit closer to one of its main backers, Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala sovereign investment vehicle, which has poured $15bn into the Vision Fund.

Citing a source close to Vision Fund head Rajeev Misra, the FT reported that the discussions of a move were being driven by a desire to substantially lower the taxes paid by the unit. 

The UK’s corporate tax rate stands at 19 per cent, while the rate in Abu Dhabi is zero – with some exceptions. 

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Softbank yesterday reported a record ¥784.4bn (£5.7bn) quarterly profit for the Vision Fund, with a broad upswing in tech valuations bringing the unit back into the black. 

The Japanese conglomerate, which has stopped reporting operating profit figures, reported a net quarterly income for the entire group of ¥627.5bn. This took net income for the first half to ¥1.88 trillion – a more than four-fold increase from the same period a year earlier.

However Softbank reported a ¥131.7bn loss from speculation on tech stocks after an attempt to diversify using its massive cash pile turned sour. 

It was reported today that the group’s stock and options trading programme came under fire from investors following the quarterly results because of Softbank founder and chief executive Masayoshi Son’s stake in the vehicle. 

Son was hit by a barrage of questions about the programme from investors and analysts at a post-results earnings call, Bloomberg reported, with several people on the call saying the structure of the division posed corporate governance concerns. 

Softbank has ploughed around $20bn into tech stocks and derivatives in an attempt to diversify using its massive cash pile, via a unit in which Son personally holds a one-third stake. 

On the call, Son denied the stake represented a conflict of interest, Bloomberg reported, and described it as remuneration for his investment expertise.

Softbank declined to comment on both reports.