SoftBank’s Son not satisfied with group’s record-setting FY20 profit

The Yomiuri Shimbun
SoftBank Group Corp. Chairman and CEO Masayoshi Son explains the group’s fiscal 2020 financial results in Minato Ward, Tokyo, on Wednesday.

SoftBank Group Corp. Chairman and CEO Masayoshi Son refuses to be satisfied even after the tech conglomerate set a record in fiscal 2020 for the highest net profit by a Japanese company.

“We haven’t done enough,” Son said at a press conference in Tokyo on Wednesday after the results for the year ended this March were announced. “We won’t be satisfied even with ¥10 trillion” in net profit.

The question will be whether the tech conglomerate can generate stable profit after posting ¥4.99 trillion in net profit in fiscal 2020 on the back of a net loss of nearly ¥1 trillion the previous fiscal year.

“It was just the result of several factors,” Son said. “We shouldn’t be surprised if we report a profit or loss of ¥1 trillion or ¥2 trillion in the future, depending on the market.”

The figures in the consolidated financial report, based on international financial reporting standards, are comparable to that of U.S. IT giants. Although the net profit was behind Apple Inc., which boasts the world’s top figure of about ¥6 trillion, it exceeded that of Microsoft Corp.’s about ¥4.8 trillion and Google LLC’ s parent company Alphabet Inc.’s about ¥4.2 trillion.

The SoftBank Vision Fund unit generated the largest profit with investment income of about ¥6.4 trillion. In the previous fiscal year, it posted a loss of about ¥1.8 trillion.

Most of SoftBank Group’s profit, however, was due to latent gains from the rise in share prices of its investments, driven by the global stock market rally. Of the total, only about ¥400 billion was generated as a realized gain through the sale of shares.

Son said he will continue to invest more in start-ups involved in artificial intelligence and accelerate initial public offerings. He said about a dozen businesses the company invested in were listed in fiscal 2020, with more to come this fiscal year.

Specifically, China’s leading ride-hailing firm DiDi Chuxing Inc. and Singapore’s Grab Holdings Inc. are expected to be listed. Both are said to be worth several trillion yen.

Son emphasized that SoftBank Group will continue to create companies that redefine industries through new technologies. He declined to disclose an earnings forecast for the fiscal year ending March 2022, citing many uncertain factors.