Wednesday, August 09, 2017
SoftBank has confirmed that its 4.9 percent stake in Nvidia is to be transferred to the Vision Fund, its colossal investment vehicle that’s targeting a $100 billion final close.
The Japanese tech firm bought the position in chip-maker Nvidia, which has forayed into AI and self-driving car tech in recent years, back in May for a reported $4 billion. The Vision Fund held the rights to acquire that asset and the transfer was confirmed today in a filing.
The price paid was never disclosed but, with Nvidia’s market cap nearly at $100 billion today, the shares are worth around $5 billion right now. Following the deal, the Vision Fund becomes Nvidia’s fourth largest shareholder.
Beyond Nvidia, the Vision Fund is also picking up SoftBank’s share of medtech startup Guardant Health, which raised $360 million led by SoftBank in May. There’s plenty of cross-over beyond those deals. Previously, Softbank sold one-quarter of ARM, the chip giant it acquired last year for north of $30 billion, to the Vision Fund.
That ARM deal is a key component to the interest in Nvidia. SoftBank CEO Mashayoshi Son explained that Nvidia’s involvement in the Vision Fund makes particular sense because of the relationship that it has with ARM, which licenses its chip design to Nvidia among others. Addressing investors and press at a Q1 earnings event, Son dedicated plenty of time to explaining the Vision Fund which, as he himself admitted, is quite like any other VC investment vehicle in tech today.
Beyond its sheer size, he said that the fund is about developing a group of the world’s best companies to capitalize on the coming “information revolution.” Son explained that neither SoftBank nor the fund will look to take majority ownership in companies or invest strictly for profit, rather the goal is to develop a portfolio of top tech firms that can explore partnerships and synergies to grow together.
“We are ready to create this group and Nvidia is part of that,” he said.
Back when the Vision Fund announced its first close of $93 billion — that also happened in May, it was a busy month — SoftBank disclosed that the fund has the right to buy its stakes in ARM, Nvidia and Guardant Health, as well as Intelsat, OneWeb and SoFi. Expect more share swapping between the two entities going forward.
SoftBank’s other transactions may soon include its first ride-sharing investment in North America, too. Son revealed his intention to cut a deal with either Uber of Lyft — he said a decision hasn’t been made on which one yet. SoftBank is already the majority investor in Didi Chuxing (China), Ola (India), Grab (Southeast Asia) and 99 (Latin America).
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