Date
16 August 2017
Masayoshi Son has stepped up his already frenetic deal-making pace recently as he approaches his 60th birthday. Photo: WSJ
Masayoshi Son has stepped up his already frenetic deal-making pace recently as he approaches his 60th birthday. Photo: WSJ

SoftBank eyes stake in Uber or Lyft

SoftBank Group Corp. chief executive Masayoshi Son expressed eagerness to invest in Uber Technologies Inc. or Lyft Inc. to gain access to the US ride-hailing market after similar investments in Asia, the Wall Street Journal reports.

“We are interested in discussing with Uber. We are also interested in discussing with Lyft,” the SoftBank chief said Monday at a news conference, adding that he wasn’t sure what form an investment would take. “The US is a very big market, the most important market, so we are definitely very much interested.”

Son, founder and head of the Japanese technology and telecommunications group, has stepped up his already frenetic deal-making pace recently as he approaches his 60th birthday later this week.

He said he was close to a deal involving SoftBank-controlled US wireless operator Sprint Corp. that would trigger consolidation in the U.S. telecom industry.

SoftBank and Sprint are brokering “multiple possibilities,” he said. He declined to comment on whether a combination with T-Mobile US Inc. — which Son has pursued on and off for years — was on the table.

His war chest is generated from solid revenue from SoftBank’s telecom operations in Japan, a lucrative early investment in Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., and US$93 billion in committed capital in the SoftBank Vision Fund, which was formed with Saudi government investment.

Already, SoftBank is a big investor in the three largest Asian ride-hailing companies: Singapore’s GrabTaxi Holdings Pte., India’s Ola and China’s Didi Chuxing Technology Co. It has also invested in semiconductors, robotics and other areas relevant to autonomous driving.

By expanding its reach to Uber or Lyft, SoftBank could help determine the industry’s direction in adopting autonomous-driving technology, Son said.

The technology “is definitely coming, and when that comes, this ride-sharing business becomes even more important,” he said.

An Uber spokeswoman and a Lyft spokesman declined to comment on Son’s remarks. 

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