SoftBank's Vision Fund to borrow against tech stakes

BENGALURU • SoftBank's Vision Fund is looking to borrow US$4 billion (S$5.52 billion) against its stakes in Uber Technologies and two other Silicon Valley start-ups in order to hand back cash to investors in the US$100 billion fund, the Financial Times (FT) reported, citing people involved in the deal.

The two other start-ups are soon-to-go-public Slack Technologies Inc, and blood-testing company Guardant Health Inc.

The fund is in talks with banks, including Goldman Sachs Group, to arrange a loan secured against its holdings in the three Silicon Valley companies, the newspaper said, adding that if the value of those stakes falls beyond a certain threshold, the fund will be obliged to stump up more cash.

SoftBank Investment Advisers (UK) Limited is the largest shareholder in Uber, with a 12.88 per cent stake, and Guardant Health, with a 30.74 per cent stake, Refinitiv data showed. Slack Technologies, the owner of a popular workplace instant messaging app, plans to make its market debut on June 20.

Goldman Sachs, SoftBank, Uber, Slack and Guardant Health did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

FT said the wave of technology stock market listings over the past few months has created the potential for the Vision Fund to cash out from some of its investments. By borrowing against the value of publicly traded shares, SoftBank can return capital to its investors in the fund while bypassing "lock-up" periods that prevent shareholders from selling stakes in newly-listed businesses.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 31, 2019, with the headline 'SoftBank's Vision Fund to borrow against tech stakes'. Print Edition | Subscribe