Softbank’s Aozora sets up two new funds

The funds will follow Softbank’s strategy of investing in small businesses.

Aozora Bank, a Japanese bank which is partly controlled by internet investor Softbank Corp, has set up two funds to invest in Japanese start-ups, Reuters reports. One is a 10-year fund worth Y10bn (E92m), the other a seven-year fund worth Y5bn yen (E45m). Both will focus on small business investing, in line with Softbank’s strategy.

The funds have been started to take advantage of better value following recent tumbles in high-tech issues. The newswire quotes a company spokesman saying: “It was the right time to launch these venture funds since current market conditions allow for a more sensible valuation of venture companies than earlier, when the price of some start-ups was outrageous.”

Aozora, or Blue Sky Bank, reopened last September after a consortium led by Softbank Corp took over state-controlled Nippon Credit Bank (NCB), which collapsed under a mountain of bad debts in 1998.

Softbank owns 48.88 per cent of Aozora. Leasing firm Orix Corp and casualty insurer Tokio Marine & Fire Insurance Co each own 14.99 per cent.

Softbank UK Ventures was established in summer 2000 to take advantage of opportunities in Britain.