Japanese telecommunications and internet company SoftBank announced Friday that it is partnering with Saudi Arabia to launch a technology investment fund that may manage as much as $100 billion. Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) — the country’s top sovereign wealth fund — may invest up to $45 billion over the next five years in the new fund, tentatively named the SoftBank Vision Fund, while SoftBank will put in nearly $25 billion.
Several other “large global investors” are also in talks to join what may soon become the world’s largest private equity fund, SoftBank said. However, the potential investors in the London-based fund were not identified.
“With the establishment of the SoftBank Vision Fund, we will be able to step up investments in technology companies globally,” SoftBank Chairman and CEO Masayoshi Son, said in a statement. “Over the next decade, the SoftBank Vision Fund will be the biggest investor in the technology sector. We will further accelerate the Information Revolution by contributing to its development.”
SoftBank has been steadily upping its investments in the tech sector in recent years. In addition to its significant stakes in the Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba and the U.S. wireless operator Sprint, the company has also established a presence in the chip-making sector with a $32 billion acquisition of the U.K. chip designer ARM Holdings.
For Saudi Arabia, becoming the lead investment partner in the fund would provide it a further opportunity to wean off the country’s economy from oil. In April, Saudi Arabia’s cabinet approved an economic reform plan — named Vision 2030 — to minimize the gulf nation's reliance on oil as a source of revenue.
“We are delighted to sign this MOU with SBG given the long history, established industry relationships and strong investment performance of SBG and Masayoshi Son,” Saudi Arabia's Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said in the statement. “The Public Investment Fund is focused on achieving attractive long-term financial returns from its investments at home and abroad, as well as supporting the Kingdom's Vision 2030 strategy to develop a diversified economy.”
As part of this diversification process and the effort to boost its share of overseas holdings, the PIF — which is estimated to have almost $200 billion in assets — also invested $3.5 billion in the American ride-hailing company Uber in June.