SoftBank to add $71b, 50k jobs in US

A NEW CHAPTER WITH TRUMP:  "I  just came to celebrate his new job. I said: 'This is great. The US will become great again.' - JAPAN'S SOFTBANK FOUNDER MASAYOSHI SON, on his meeting with US President-elect Donald Trump.
A NEW CHAPTER WITH TRUMP: "I just came to celebrate his new job. I said: 'This is great. The US will become great again.' - JAPAN'S SOFTBANK FOUNDER MASAYOSHI SON, on his meeting with US President-elect Donald Trump.

NEW YORK • The brash and outspoken founder of Japan's SoftBank, Masayoshi Son, announced after meeting President- elect Donald Trump a pledge to invest US$50 billion (S$70.9 billion) in the United States, a move he said would create some 50,000 jobs.

But the investment pledge is not an entirely new initiative that SoftBank is undertaking.

Instead, the money is projected to come from the Japanese company's previously announced Vision fund, a US$100 billion vehicle for investing in technology companies worldwide.

The fund - which includes Saudi Arabia, a target of Mr Trump's ire during the presidential campaign, as a key partner - was always expected to strike a significant portion of its deals in the US.

Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Mr Son said the new jobs would come from investing in US start-ups. Mr Trump later declared on Twitter: "Masa said he would never do this had we (Mr Trump) not won the election!"

The President-elect has campaigned to bring manufacturing and jobs back to the US.

Yesterday, Foxconn, the world's largest contract electronics manufacturer and a major Apple supplier, said it was in preliminary discussions to expand its operations in the United States.

"While the scope of the potential investment has not been determined, we will announce the details of any plans following the completion of direct discussions between our leadership and the relevant US officials," it said in a statement.

Mr Son and Foxconn founder Terry Gou are considered close and have several business ventures together.

In speaking to reporters alongside Mr Trump on Tuesday, Mr Son clutched what appeared to be a presentation from the meeting. One page featured the logos of both SoftBank and Foxconn.

Although SoftBank has its headquarters in Japan, it has deep roots in the US. It is the majority owner of wireless operator Sprint, which two years ago unsuccessfully pursued a takeover bid for T-Mobile. That effort was effectively blocked by the Obama administration on antitrust grounds.

Mr Son was not expected to discuss specific issues with Mr Trump during their meeting, including the prospects of renewing a Sprint bid for its rival, according to a person briefed on the matter.

"I just came to celebrate his new job," Mr Son, 59, told reporters at Trump Tower. "I said: 'This is great. The US will become great again.' "

Such bold talk is customary from the American-educated Son, who has built one of Japan's biggest personal fortunes through sometimes brash deal-making.

NYTIMES, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 08, 2016, with the headline 'SoftBank to add $71b, 50k jobs in US'. Print Edition | Subscribe