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SoftBank Group reports surprise third-quarter $5.9 bln loss

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SoftBank Group has made huge bets to find and grow hot new tech ventures but its exposure to so many tech firms has left its earnings vulnerable to fickle market forces./AFP
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Feb 07, 2023 - 11:59 AM

TOKYO, JAPAN — Japan’s SoftBank Group reported a surprise 783 billion yen ($5.9 billion) net loss in the third quarter, as a slump in the tech sector hits the investment behemoth’s bottom line.

The firm’s two Vision Fund investment vehicles alone lost 660 billion yen ($5 billion) in the three months to December, “reflecting declines in the share prices of a wide range of portfolio companies,” SoftBank said.

SoftBank Group has made huge bets to find and grow hot new tech ventures around the world.

But its exposure to so many tech firms has left its  earnings vulnerable to fickle market forces, and its two Vision Funds have reported losses for four straight quarters.

Interest rate hikes by the US Federal Reserve and other central banks to tackle inflation have weighed on global tech shares, putting pressure on SoftBank.

Its results have lurched between dizzying highs and lows in recent years, with China’s crackdown on its tech sector taking a toll on the company.

Its second quarter earnings were boosted by the sale of some of its shares in Alibaba, which reduced its stake in the Chinese tech giant to around 15 percent from 24 percent.

But its first quarter earnings were also hit by tech stock slumps, a trend analysts said was likely to continue.

“Weakness in global equity markets remains the main risk to the SoftBank story, with direct exposure through public investments at Vision Fund and at the parent level and indirect exposure through private asset valuation impairments,” said Kirk Boodry, an analyst at Redex Research who publishes on SmartKarma.

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