Fortunate Son: Softbank chief took 50 per cent pay cut in 2020, but that's not the worst of his worries

He remains fabulously wealthy, for now


We all tightened our belts a little bit in 2020, not least the iconoclastic SoftBank Group CEO Masayoshi Son, who saw his annual remuneration cut by over half [PDF] during the turbulent year.

According to disclosures [PDF] published ahead of SoftBank's annual general meeting, Masayoshi's remuneration fell by 52 per cent to "just" JPY 100m (£641,500, $910,460).

But you shouldn't feel too sorry for him. Over the last calendar year, Softbank has seen its share price almost double, soaring from 4,827 JPY (£30.95 ,$43.95) on May 28, 2020, to 8,092 JPY (£51.89, $73.67) today. This growth was in part due to a nearly $23bn share buyback scheme, as well as overall solid performance across the business.

In the financial year ending March 2021, the conglomerate earned a 4.99 trillion yen profit (roughly £32.2bn, $45.4bn), in part due to the stratospheric rise of technology stocks during the pandemic.

With a nearly 20 per cent stake in the SoftBank Group, Masayoshi has seen his net worth soar to $45.4bn in February of this year, making him the 29th richest person in the world, and the wealthiest Japanese citizen.

Not all plain sailing

The previous financial year, ending March 2020, saw the SoftBank group face punishing losses of nearly $12.7bn, with the biggest hit stemming from its Vision Fund.

Almost $5.2bn evaporated from SoftBank's stake in Uber. The value of its investment in troubled office leasing startup WeWork was slashed by $4.6bn, too.

WeWork was forced to cancel its planned IPO in September 2019 after the publication of its "weapons-grade new-age marketing prospectus". This legally-mandated document showed breathtaking losses within the company. Investors questioned whether the company was sustainable in the long term, without regular injections of capital.

In two months, WeWork saw its total valuation plummet from $47bn to $4.9bn. SoftBank eventually opted to take a control of the company, acquiring an 80 per cent stake and replacing its CEO Adam Neumann.

Borrowing from the conglomerate's principal lenders rose to 4.98 trillion yen ($46 bn) in the last financial year. Goldman Sachs Group Inc and JPMorgan Chase & Co are among SoftBank's biggest lenders, according to the filings.

Most recently, The Softbank Vision Fund saw its investment in Greensill Capital implode, after the supply chain finance fintech was cut off from its insurance partners and thus unable to issue new loans.

This has potential ramifications for the SoftBank Group going forward, as Greensill provided loans to other Vision Fund portfolio companies, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Put simply: Masayoshi Son has bigger concerns than a 52 per cent pay cut. ®

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