Jack Ma resigns from SoftBank board as three new members are added

The resignation arrives shortly prior to the release of SoftBank's annual results, which are expected to reveal an operating loss of over ¥1 trillion.
Written by Campbell Kwan, Contributor

SoftBank has announced that Jack Ma, co-founder and former chairman of Alibaba, has resigned from its board.

The Japanese conglomerate also named three new directors [PDF] to its board. They are Yoshimitsu Goto, senior vice president, CFO, and CISO of SoftBank Group; Lip-Bu Tan, founder and chairman of Cadence Design Systems; and Yuko Kawamoto, professor at the Waseda Business School.

Tan and Kawamoto will sit as external directors who act independently from the board, with Kawamoto being the sole female member on the board.

Prior to his resignation, Jack Ma had also stepped down from his position of chairman at Alibaba in September -- 20 years after he co-founded the company. 

SoftBank currently has a 25% stake in Alibaba, and was one of the Chinese tech giant's earliest investors back in 2000. 

In a separate announcement [PDF] on the same day, SoftBank said it would spend ¥500 billion to repurchase its own shares as part of its ¥4.5 trillion ($41 billion) debt reduction scheme that was announced in March. At the time, SoftBank said it would already buy back up to ¥2 trillion worth of shares, in addition to a ¥500 billion yen share buyback it had announced earlier that month.

The set of announcements arrive as SoftBank prepares to give its full-year results ended March 31, which are expected to reveal an annual operating loss in the ballpark of ¥1.35 trillion due to failed investments from its Vision Fund, such as WeWork.

In its forecast, SoftBank said it expected to see a loss of around ¥700 billion from its WeWork investment alone for the fiscal year ended March 2020. 

Previously, the SoftBank Vision Fund in Q3 reported operating losses of ¥225 billion, which almost completely wiped out the Japanese company's bottom line for that quarter.

With the COVID-19 outbreak still ongoing, SoftBank founder and CEO Masayoshi Son also said last month that he expected 15 companies in the Vision Fund to go bankrupt as the company tightens its financial belt.


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