SoftBank CEO Son studying U.K. listing for Arm

SoftBank CEO Son studying U.K. listing for Arm

On Friday, TOKYO SoftBank Group Chairman and CEO Masayoshi Son said he was studying a London listing for U.K. chip designer Arm, as he bets on a blockbuster initial public offering to revive a slump in the group's stock price.

He told shareholders at SoftBank's annual general meeting that we received requests from various people in the U.K. to list our company in London. We are receiving strong love calls. Our main preference is Nasdaq, but we haven't decided yet. I would like to study more and make a final decision. SoftBank is pushing for an initial public offering of Arm after regulators shot down the sale of Arm to U.S. peer Nvidia earlier this year. Son stressed that he felt lucky that the deal fell through.

He said that the arm is the engine at the forefront of the information revolution. It is at the core of the SoftBank Group. Son talked about Arm, the world's dominant provider of designs for semiconductors, and said that it is increasingly taking market share in areas like cloud computing and cars. He said that arm will drive the information revolution of all kinds, not just smartphones.

Son spent more time explaining the Vision Fund, a big contrast to shareholder meetings of the past few years. SoftBank lost 1.7 trillion yen ($2.6 billion) for the fiscal year ended March from a record 5 trillion yen net profit the previous year, as the value of its tech portfolio shrunk dramatically.

The number of initial public offerings has declined by more than 50% this year, as inflation fears hit investment appetite for tech stocks. Several SoftBank-backed companies, including Chinese drone maker XAG and Israeli trading platform eToro, have either withdrawn or delayed their listing plans.

Son said he would slow down the pace of investment when he announced his results last month. He said on Friday that he has no hesitation about his vision, but he gave a rare warning to investors. He said if you are buying shares on margin, be careful. He said that prices will go up.

SoftBank's biggest hope is Arm, which it bought for $31 billion in 2016. Revenue for the year ended March increased 35% year-on-year, thanks to the shipments of 5 G phones and telecommunications equipment. Son said in May that it was one of his key priorities to clear the path for its IPO. Arm's joint venture in China recently resolved a key management issue that had been a bottleneck for two years.

SoftBank has already taken an $8 billion loan by pledging Arm shares as collateral in a smooth IPO.

Son said SoftBank is managing market risks by keeping net debt under 25% of net asset value and keeping cash equivalent to two years worth of bond maturities. Since the market is uncertain right now, our cash position is much more than usual, he said.