Home / Companies / News /  Bets going sour, SoftBank CEO promises he’ll be more careful

NEW YORK : SoftBank Group Corp. chief executive Masayoshi Son, under pressure from hedge fund Elliott Management to rein in his mercurial investment style, turned on the charm in a meeting with US investors on Monday, but offered few concrete concessions.

“I promise you I’ll start to be more careful and listen. My view doesn’t change, but my behaviour becomes a little more careful," sources quoted Son as telling investors, who attended his presentation at the Lotte New York Palace hotel in Manhattan.

Son, who built SoftBank into a tech investment powerhouse, is now having to defend his track record after several of its expensive bets on startups, including office space-sharing firm WeWork, soured.

Elliott, which oversees $40 billion in assets, has held discussions with SoftBank’s management and is calling on the company to buy back some $20 billion of its stock, improve its governance by increasing the independence and diversity of its board and improving transparency, people familiar with the matter said last month.

Son said on Monday he had not given enough weight to the opinions of investors and the company’s independent board members, according to three people who attended the meeting, which was closed to the media, and gave details on condition of anonymity.

Son pointed to SoftBank’s stock trading at a big discount to the value of its assets as an opportunity for investors to buy in.

His approach to investing heavily in companies with disruptive technology potential and giving carte blanche to the founders of startups he backs has helped make him one of the world’s wealthiest investors. Yet it has also led to blunders that have blemished SoftBank’s performance.

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