Is SoftBank’s boss changing his ways?

“STONE-COLD crazy” was how a private-equity boss described the $1.7bn golden parachute that SoftBank, a Japanese conglomerate, gave Adam Neumann, co-founder of WeWork, as part of the co-working empire’s bail-out last autumn. SoftBank appears to have come to its senses. On April 2nd it scrapped a deal to buy up to $3bn in WeWork shares, which would have made Mr Neumann a billionaire. SoftBank says American government probes into WeWork, whose initial public offering imploded in part over governance concerns, mean it doesn’t have to make the purchase. Two WeWork shareholders who would have benefited from the deal are suing SoftBank; Mr Neumann has yet to respond.

Breaking with Mr Neumann is just one example of a new, sober Son Masayoshi. In March SoftBank’s billionaire boss manoeuvred to reduce risk at his company. It is to sell $41bn of assets over 12 months to fund an $18bn share buy-back and pay off $23bn of debt. He may part with some of a prized 26% stake in Alibaba, a Chinese e-commerce titan. He even let a beloved startup go bust. OneWeb, which filed for bankruptcy on March 27th, planned to transmit broadband from satellites—a key part of Mr Son’s vision of ubiquitous connectivity.

He is under pressure to make concessions. Over the past few years SoftBank took on more debt. Mr Son spent $52bn to buy Sprint, an...

via Business Feeds

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