Billionaire Masayoshi Son on Buying Spree as SoftBank Chases Growth

Billionaire Son on Buying Spree as SoftBank Chases Growth

A day after SoftBank Corp. (9984) said it was buying a majority stake in gamemaker Supercell Oy, billionaire Chairman Masayoshi Son is at it again. Japan’s third-largest wireless carrier is in talks to buy a stake in Brightstar Corp., a U.S.-based mobile-phone distributor, the company said in a filing to the Tokyo Stock Exchange. The Nikkei newspaper earlier reported the deal could be worth more than 100 billion yen ($1 billion).SoftBank has been involved in at least 12 deals in the past year, topped by its $21.6 billion acquisition of Sprint Corp., as it expands in North America and Europe to counter a declining population at home. SoftBank yesterday agreed to buy a 51 percent stake in Finland-based Supercell, adding to a stable of investments in more than 1,000 Internet companies, including Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. and Yahoo Japan Corp. (4689)

“Mr. Son has said entering the U.S. carrier market was his dream, but his dream seems endless,” said Yuuki Sakurai, chief executive officer of Fukoku Capital Management Inc. “Where does he plan to stop?”

Brightstar distributes mobile phones, provides handset insurance and financial services with operations in about 50 countries, according to its website. No decision has been made on the acquisition, according to a SoftBank filing with the Tokyo Stock Exchange. Brightstar Chairman Marcelo Claure said in an e-mail the company doesn’t comment on rumors.

Alibaba Investment

“Waking up in the morning is fun as long as there’s a dream,” according to a posting on Son’s Twitter account late yesterday.

SoftBank said yesterday it agreed to pay $1.53 billion for the majority stake in Supercell, the developer of games including “Clash of Clans” and “Hay Day,” in a bid by the carrier to capitalize on booming demand for titles played on mobile phones.

“Expanding its content business fits SoftBank’s growth strategy and the company will likely continue expanding operations outside the telecom arena,” Satoru Kikuchi, an analyst at SMBC Nikko Securities Inc. in Tokyo, said in report to clients.

SoftBank invested $20 million in Alibaba.com more than a decade ago. Its investment in Alibaba Group could be worth more than 1,000 times that if the Chinese e-commerce operator proceeds with an initial public offering. Analysts estimate Alibaba may be worth as much as $120 billion.

The Japanese carrier invested $150 million in 2010 to acquire a stake in Zynga Inc. (ZNGA)

Son is Japan’s second-richest man, with an estimated net worth of $13.5 billion according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. He is forecasting record domestic earnings this year for SoftBank as new subscribers are added more quickly and the Sprint deal saves $2 billion annually by pooling purchases of handsets and network equipment.

SoftBank rose 1.5 percent to 7,350 yen at 11:32 a.m. in Tokyo trading. The shares have more than doubled this year while Japan’s benchmark Topix index has added 39 percent.

To contact the reporters on this story: Takashi Amano in Tokyo at tamano6@bloomberg.net; Mariko Yasu in Tokyo at myasu@bloomberg.net

About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (www.heroinnovator.com), the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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