SoftBank in talks to sell stake in Indian renewable energy venture: ET

BENGALURU (Reuters) - SoftBank Group Corp 9984.T is in talks to sell a majority stake in its renewable energy joint venture in India as it looks to raise cash after facing setbacks to its global investments, India's Economic Times daily reported on Thursday.

FILE PHOTO: The logo of SoftBank Group Corp is displayed at the SoftBank World 2017 conference in Tokyo, Japan, July 20, 2017. REUTERS/Issei Kato/File Photo

SoftBank’s Indian renewable energy business is a joint venture with India’s Bharti Enterprises and Taiwan’s Foxconn Technology Group.

The Japanese technology giant has been in talks with sovereign wealth and pension funds from the Far East and Gulf regions, as well as some Silicon Valley technology giants, the report said, citing people in the know of the matter.

It is considering options including a sale of its entire 70% stake or a majority stake in the renewable energy venture, the paper reported.

However, the chief executive officer of SoftBank’s global energy business denied any plans of exiting the renewable energy business in India.

“As part of business strategy, we review all options to raise external capital, including strategic investments, from time to time,” CEO Raman Nanda said in an email statement to Reuters. “There is absolutely no plan to exit from the business.”

The report of the stake-sale talks comes as SoftBank faces renewed investor scrutiny after being forced to bail out one of its best known portfolio companies, the cash-burning, office-sharing firm WeWork, for about $10 billion last year.

This has put a spotlight on founder Masayoshi Son’s strategy of pouring billions of dollars into unproven, money-losing startups at a time when it is getting squeezed by a sell-off in many of its listed bets.

Its bailout effort for WeWork appeared to have complicated after talks to secure $3 billion from Japan’s three biggest banks stalled, Reuters reported last month.

The ET report said SoftBank was looking at a partner that can provide equity commitments of $1.5 billion to $2 billion to execute and complete a pipeline of 7 gigawatts of renewable energy projects around the world.

SoftBank’s Indian clean energy venture won its first solar plant order in 2015, the year when India, the world’s third-largest carbon emitter, set an ambitious target to ramp up solar power capacity by five times to 100,000 megawatts by 2022.

Reporting by Sachin Ravikumar; Editing by Arun Koyyur