New York/Tokyo — SoftBank Group’s Rajeev Misra disputed reports that the Japanese company had pumped up tech stocks through its options trading, saying no single investor has that kind of influence on the markets.

SoftBank has been more actively putting money into public securities after selling off tens of billions in assets over the past six months, he said. But he scoffed at reports that the company is a “whale” stirring froth in global markets.

“Nobody buying $10bn of Nasdaq over a few weeks is going to move the Nasdaq,” Misra said in an interview with Bloomberg at the Milken Institute’s virtual conference. “We’re not even a dolphin, forget being a whale.”

The Milken panel involved a broad discussion of capital markets with top executives from Guggenheim Partners and Bank of New York Mellon, as well as Misra, the head of SoftBank’s Vision Fund. The panelists focused on the challenges of deploying capital in profitable ways, given low interest rates and high, public market valuations.

SoftBank embarked on record asset sales this year after its shares plunged in March with management missteps and coronavirus concerns. Founder Masayoshi Son has sold off chunks of his holdings in Alibaba Group Holding, T-Mobile US and SoftBank, his domestic wireless operation.

Misra said that after SoftBank Group completes the sale of chip designer Arm to Nvidia, the company will have about $100bn in cash.

“Are we buying a few billion of other stocks to diversify away from the Alibaba we sold in the past six months?” Misra asked. “We’re still sitting on a lot of cash. It’s a liquidity management strategy, it’s a diversification strategy.”

He said the idea that SoftBank could push around the Nasdaq index or the valuations of $1-trillion companies reflected a misunderstanding of how such markets work. “The Nasdaq futures trade $120bn a day. Buying $1bn or $2bn or $5bn ain’t moving it. The entire market can’t be moved by day traders or SoftBank or anybody else. It’s just too big.”



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