Son Personally Lost $1.3 Billion on SoftBank Stock Trading

By BLOOMBERG

Masayoshi Son said he personally took a $1.3 billion hit on his firm’s controversial stock and options investment program. 

The 150 billion yen loss for the founder of SoftBank Group Corp. came from his one-third stake in SB Northstar, SoftBank’s vehicle for investing in what it termed “highly liquid listed stocks,” including Amazon.com Inc, Microsoft Corp. and Zoom Video Communications Inc. 

While the vehicle was intended to diversify SoftBank’s liquid assets, the investments in equity derivatives led to it being termed the “Nasdaq whale” due to its bets that were said to have roiled the market. Executives later said the bets didn’t even amount to being a “dolphin.”

Last November, Son was said to have faced questions about his personal investment in Northstar, with some pointing to potential corporate governance concerns. People familiar with the matter said in December that SoftBank had begun to wind the strategy down. Most of the large stakes in listed firms are now no longer listed on SoftBank’s earnings, while today’s filing indicated that many of the more controversial bets on derivatives were also being wrapped up.

The operation was a wash for SoftBank as a whole, Son told a briefing in Tokyo, as his investment came later. He added the loss hasn’t dissuaded him from continuing to make bets with his money, with a personal investment in the firm’s Latin American funds being announced today in addition to his investment in Vision Fund 2 — though he added he had not yet convinced other managers to invest their cash.

“I have lots of confidence,” he said. “I’m going to take risk again.”