Monday 11 March 2019 9:17 am

Softbank unveils $500m Softbank Acceleration Fund

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Softbank has launched a new global tech fund with up to $500m (£384.68m) to pour into early-stage startups.

Read more: Softbank's Vision Fund pump $940m into robotics firm Nuro

The Japanese telecoms giant could launch the Softbank Acceleration Fund as early as next month, according to Reuters.

The new fund – a rebrand of Seoul-based SoftBank Ventures Asia, is around five times the size of comparable funds launched last year, data from Preqin suggested.

While Softbank’s $100bn Vision Fund focuses on providing cash to late-stage startups, this one will focus on companies at a much earlier stage of growth that are still trying to get their ideas off the ground.

“It’s an important signal within the Softbank Group that Softbank thinks early-stage investments are important and will make continued efforts on them,” said JP Lee, the fund’s boss.

When he secured a green light to start the new fund last October, Softbank chief executive Masayoshi Son asked him why they should invest in early-stage startups.

Reuters said Lee replied by referring to Son’s $20m investment in Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, which is now worth $130bn.

As well as Softbank, South Korea’s National Pension Service will pour money into the fund, along with unnamed companies and asset managers.

The multinational’s latest move signalled its ongoing transformation from a telecoms player into a major tech investor on the international stage after investments in Uber, We Work and other firms.

It has launched a $5bn fund targeting Latin America, which chief executive Son said is “on the cusp of becoming one of the most important economic regions in the world”.

Read more: Softbank plugs $200m into European-focused Abu Dhabi tech fund

That fund, the Softbank Innovation Fund, will be run by ex-Sprint boss Marcelo Claure, with a remit covering e-commerce, health care and digital financial services.