SoftBank Group CEO Masayoshi Son, November 5 2018. Picture: REUTERS/KIM KYUNG-HOON
SoftBank Group CEO Masayoshi Son, November 5 2018. Picture: REUTERS/KIM KYUNG-HOON

London/Bengaluru — Japan's SoftBank is considering an initial public offering of its $100bn Vision Fund, a source familiar with the matter said on Friday.

The fund was set up in 2017 and has become the world's largest technology investment fund. Its investments include ride-hailing pioneer Uber, chip designer ARM and shared workspace firm WeWork.

The company has publicly stated it plans to set up a second investment fund. The senior banking source said Softbank was now talking to banks about helping it raise money, confirming an earlier report in the Wall Street Journal.

Softbank has spoken to half a dozen banks over the last month about a potential listing of the Vision Fund but has yet to start a formal process, the source said, adding he was not expecting such a process in the near term.

"They asked banks questions on how they could possibly do it. It is still very much in exploration mode," the source said, adding that Softbank had been possibly given the idea by fellow tech investor Naspers, which plans to list some of its assets.

"The big difference is that the biggest asset in the Naspers portfolio is Tencent, which is listed, whereas the portfolio of the Vision Fund is all private," the source said.

China's Tencent is a social media and gaming company listed in Hong Kong.

A spokesperson for Softbank declined to comment when contacted by Reuters.

SoftBank is also in talks with Oman for an investment in the fund, which has raised nearly all of its funding so far from Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi, according to the WSJ report.

Oman was not immediately available for a comment when contacted by Reuters, nor was there an immediate response from the Japanese conglomerate.

SoftBank is seeking to raise new funds for "informal deals", CEO Masayoshi Son negotiated in China for Vision Fund, one of the people told WSJ.

The fund is also planning to double its staff over the next 18 months to keep up with the pace of deal making by SoftBank, the company's top deputies reportedly said at a conference in Los Angeles this week. 

Reuters