SoftBank to commit $40 billion to second Vision Fund: WSJ

(Reuters) - Tech conglomerate SoftBank Group Corp 9984.T will invest $40 billion in its forthcoming second Vision Fund, the Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday.

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 board will meet on Thursday to approve the commitment, the WSJ reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

While the first, $100 billion Vision Fund launched with $60 billion in backing from the sovereign wealth funds of Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi, SoftBank has pledged to launch its second even without such support as it markets the fund to potential investors.

The second fund has secured investment from Goldman Sachs Group Inc GS.N and Standard Chartered Plc STAN.L, WSJ said.

Goldman hopes the commitment will help secure work on the growing number of SoftBank portfolio companies heading to the public markets, the report said. Kazakhstan’s sovereign wealth fund will also invest, the WSJ said.

SoftBank, Goldman Sachs and Standard Chartered declined to comment.

Tokyo-based SoftBank can tout the 45% internal rate of return made by investors in the first fund’s common shares - albeit gains that are mostly on paper.

Since the first fund’s launch its biggest outside investor, Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF), has been pulled further into domestic projects as the government runs a larger-than-expected deficit, potentially limiting its overseas ambitions.

While PIF is among existing investors in talks with SoftBank, any decision to invest in the second fund will be made only after assessing a formal proposal, a source familiar with the talks said.

With the first Vision Fund having burned though much of its cash in the two years since it launched with investments in more than 80 late stage tech startups, the fund’s manager is ramping up its staff numbers as it looks to manage the transition to the launch of the second fund.

Reporting by Sam Nussey in Tokyo; Additional reporting by Akanksha Rana in Bengaluru, Sumeet Chatterjee in Hong Kong and Saeed Azhar in Dubai; Editing by Anil D’Silva and Richard Pullin