SoftBank in talks to invest in Latam venture capital funds: sources

SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Japan's SoftBank Group Corp 9984.T is in talks with venture capital firms in Latin America to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in their funds, a move likely to speed up spending of a $5 billion regional venture capital fund, three sources with knowledge of the matter said.

FILE PHOTO: SoftBank Corp. placard is prepared during a ceremony to mark the company's debut on the Tokyo Stock Exchange in Tokyo, Japan December 19, 2018. REUTERS/Issei Kato/File Photo

So far, SoftBank has only announced direct investments using the fund’s resources, injecting capital into Colombian delivery app Rappi, Brazilian lender Creditas, gym membership app Gympass and Mexican payments firm Clip, for instance.

However, SoftBank’s Latin America fund also plans to invest in venture capital funds as a way to further foster innovation in the region, the sources said on condition of anonymity. The strategy will position SoftBank closer to startups that may eventually grow big enough to receive the group’s direct investments.

SoftBank executives told fund managers it intends to deploy roughly $500 million in five to 10 funds, one source said.

At least two venture capital investors have already received SoftBank resources: Brazilian firm Valor Capital and Argentina’s Kaszek Ventures, which recently announced it had raised $600 million in fresh capital and has invested in 70 Latin American startups.

Kaszek and Valor, which is still raising money for a new fund, declined to comment on the matter.

SoftBank is still in talks with other asset managers to invest in their funds. One of them is Atlantico, a five-month-old venture capital firm founded by Julio Vasconcellos, a co-founder of Canary, a Brazil-focused investment firm with stakes in 44 startups.

Vasconcellos did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment on the matter.

SoftBank has also reached out to Monashees, a Brazilian venture capital firm that was one of the early investors in 99, a taxi app acquired by China’s Didi Chuxing for around $1 billion, as well as bike rental app Yellow, fintech Neon and logistics firm Loggi.

However, Monashees did not reach an agreement to receive SoftBank funding, according to one of the sources.

Monashees declined to comment on the matter.

Reporting by Carolina Mandl and Tatiana Bautzer; Editing by Paul Simao