SoftBank Group: SoftBank CEO defends Vision Fund chief Rajeev Misra, after losses, controversy

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    By Pavel Alpeyev

    SoftBank Group Corp. founder Masayoshi Son defended the controversial chief of his investment arm after record losses and management controversies.

    In response to a question at his annual shareholders meeting about how he delegates power, Son made clear that he stands behind Rajeev Misra, the head of his $100 billion Vision Fund. Son said that without Misra SoftBank wouldn’t have been able to raise the capital for the fund and invest in promising startups.

    “He may be getting criticized for this and that, but Rajeev is one” of the key executives at SoftBank, Son said. “There wouldn’t be a Vision Fund if it wasn’t for him. He has been very effective and will continue to be going forward.”

    The Vision Fund lost almost $18 billion in the fiscal year ended March 31, as it wrote down the value of investments in WeWork and Uber Technologies Inc., among others. Misra has also come under fire for allegedly working through proxies to undermine rivals within SoftBank. A spokesman for Misra has denied those allegations.

    “Because Rajeev is working so hard on it, the Vision Fund has a lot of growth ahead,” Son said.

    Son hosted a virtual shareholder meeting for the first time in SoftBank’s history because of the coronavirus pandemic. He explained the company’s evolving strategy and said he would step down from the board of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. Jack Ma, Alibaba’s co-founder and former chief executive officer, is also leaving SoftBank’s board.

    The Japanese billionaire, who himself took effectively zero pay last year, also defended his practice of rewarding his executives with some of the highest salaries in the country. Somewhat controversially, Misra’s pay doubled recently at a time when the fund is cutting staff.

    “Those hard-working executives who take risks and deliver results should be paid for their efforts,” Son said. “That will allow them to take more risks in the future.”

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