SoftBank's Masayoshi Son is poised for another IPO windfall in 2021

Masayoshi son
SoftBank Group is preparing to take at least six more of its portfolio companies public this year, building on a 2020 turnaround that pushed the value of Masayoshi Son’s technology conglomerate to the highest since the dot-com boom.


Among the startups heading for initial public offerings are South Korean e-commerce pioneer Coupang Corp, Indonesian online mall operator PT Tokopedia and China’s ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing, according to people familiar with the matter, asking not to be named because the matter is private. The IPOs could give Son another round of enormous gains after successful offerings from DoorDash and KE Holdings in 2020.


Son started last year under a cloud after the meltdown at WeWork, then saw his shares plunge with the coronavirus pandemic and a loss of almost $18 billion at SoftBank’s Vision Fund. But the Japanese billionaire, long reluctant to cash out of investments like Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., embarked on an uncharacteristic sales blitz, raising more than $50 billion by shedding stakes in Alibaba, T-Mobile US Inc. and its domestic wireless affiliate, SoftBank Corp. He used the cash to buy back his own shares, pushing SoftBank Group’s stock to the highest level since 2000.


If demand for IPOs continues to be robust, it would improve the prospects for the remaining 100 or so startups in SoftBank’s portfolio. That would give Son more liquid assets to keep funding buybacks -- or perhaps take his company private.


“That old concern about them not being willing to monetize assets is largely in the past,” said Justin Tang, head of Asian research at United First Partners in Singapore.

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