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Son has now pledged 40% of his stake in SoftBank to lenders


By Venus Feng, Pavel Alpeyev and Tom Metcalf

Masayoshi Son pledged an extra 10.1 million SoftBank Group Corp. shares to lenders in the past two weeks as he unveiled an ambitious plan to overhaul his Japanese conglomerate and silence critics.

Son has now committed 227 million SoftBank shares as collateral, worth about $8 billion, according to regulatory filings. That’s about 40% of his 27% stake in the publicly traded conglomerate. The newly pledged shares were worth about $360 million at Friday’s close.

The Japanese billionaire has more than tripled the level of pledging since 2013, turning to banks including UBS Group AG, Nomura Holdings Inc., Credit Suisse Group AG and Julius Baer Group Ltd. It’s not uncommon for the ultra-wealthy to borrow against their stock, but Son’s use of the tactic is among the most significant tracked by the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. The amount he’s pledged trails only Larry Ellison, Russia’s Suleiman Kerimov and China’s Qin Yinglin on the ranking of the world’s 500 richest people.

Son’s net worth is $12 billion, which excludes the value of the pledged shares. It has fallen $3.6 billion so far this year and has been one of the more volatile fortunes tracked by Bloomberg.

SoftBank spokesman Takeaki Nukii declined to comment on Son’s personal finances.

SoftBank has been battling on several fronts this year, including facing pressure from Elliott Management Corp., which called for a special committee to review processes at the Vision Fund, the world’s largest single investment pool for tech startups. Son has responded with a plan to sell about $14 billion of shares in Chinese e-commerce leader Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. as part of an effort to raise $41 billion to shore up businesses battered by the coronavirus pandemic. Son moved ahead after he reportedly considered and then abandoned the idea of taking his conglomerate private.

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SoftBank also lashed out at Moody’s Corp. this week after its debt was downgraded by two notches, accusing the ratings company of “bias” and “creating substantial misunderstanding.”

Some other billionaires are scrambling to meet margin calls on their pledged shares. India’s Gautam Adani and his family put up an additional $1.4 billion of shares as collateral on existing debt this month, and wealth managers like UBS and Credit Suisse have asked clients to post additional collateral.





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