SoftBank ‘weeks away’ from final close of $100bn fund

The Japanese tech giant has raised $95 billion in just seven months.

Japanese technology group SoftBank will soon announce that it has raised as much as $95 billion out of its massive $100 billion target for the SoftBank Vision Fund, the world’s largest ever private equity fund.

“We’re very close, just dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s as they say. There are just a few last-minute legal things to take care of,” a source with knowledge of the matter told Private Equity International. Reports indicate the fund could even be closed as early as next week.

A spokesperson for SoftBank declined to comment on fundraising.

The Vision Fund, launched in September last year, has the backing of the Public Investment Fund of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, tech companies Apple, Qualcomm and Foxconn, and the family office of Oracle founder Larry Ellison. SoftBank will also be committing $25 billion to the fund.

In February this year, SoftBank founder Masayoshi Son announced in an earnings call that the firm is in the “last phase of the SoftBank Vision Fund closure”.

On its investment strategy, Son said it will be a mix of big deals like UK chipmaker ARM, which the firm bought for $32 billion last year, and smaller deals of about $1 billion. Son said previously that the firm will target investments in cutting-edge tech companies focused on the internet of things, artificial intelligence and robotics. He added that the fund could also make investments in healthcare and life sciences.

The fund closing comes at a time of increased investment activity for SoftBank which on Thursday led a $502 million Series B financing round in UK virtual reality company Improbable, following which the firm will hold a non-controlling minority stake in the company. SoftBank managing director Deep Nishar is also taking a seat on Improbable’s board. Other heavyweight LPs in the company include Singapore state investor Temasek Holdings as well as Hong Kong-based early stage investor Horizon Ventures and US venture capital firm Andreesen Horowitz. The deal is said to value the London start-up at over $1 billion.

SoftBank is also reportedly in talks to invest more than $1 billion in Indian digital payments company Paytm and last month SoftBank Group Capital, the investment arm of SoftBank Group, contributed $2 billion to the $5.5 billion fundraising round of Chinese ride hailing giant Didi Chuxing.

The source stressed that recent investments were made by SoftBank but the intention is that some of these investments will be passed to the investment committee of the Vision Fund for consideration.

Among investments reportedly earmarked for the fund include satellite operator Intelsat, which it plans to merge with OneWeb for $1.7 billion, as well as in New York-based co-working space company WeWork, in which it invested $300 million.

In its latest earnings call on Wednesday, SoftBank founder Masayoshi Son said the firm is “going to grow and evolve even further with Vision Fund”, and likened the firm to a “goose that lays golden eggs”, but highlighted that patience is needed.