Date
16 October 2018
Japan’s SoftBank Group is said to be planning another major investment in a Chinese tech startup, via the Vision Fund. Photo: Bloomberg
Japan’s SoftBank Group is said to be planning another major investment in a Chinese tech startup, via the Vision Fund. Photo: Bloomberg

SoftBank fund eyes US$1 bln investment in SenseTime: report

SoftBank Vision Fund is seeking to invest almost US$1 billion in China’s facial recognition technology developer SenseTime Group, Bloomberg reports, citing people familiar with the matter.

The fund, created by Japan’s SoftBank Group, and SenseTime are finalizing terms of the deal, according to the report.

SenseTime, a four-year-old AI startup, makes systems that analyze faces and images on a huge scale and contributes to China’s vast surveillance system.

The company is one of a host of local startups at the forefront of Beijing’s goal of making the country the world leader in AI by 2030, Bloomberg noted.

SoftBank has made China one of the main destinations for its US$100 billion Vision Fund.

Its earlier China deals include investments in ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing and insurance services firm ZhongAn Online P&C Insurance.

If the SenseTime plan goes ahead, SoftBank will join some of the biggest names in technology and investment in placing bets on the Chinese AI firm.

Qualcomm backed SenseTime last year while Alibaba Group and Temasek Holdings joined a US$600 million funding round in April this year.

Fidelity International, Silver Lake and Tiger Global Management took part in a June financing that raised US$620 million and boosted SenseTime’s valuation to more than US$4.5 billion, Bloomberg noted in its report.

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RC

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