After India, SoftBank CEO makes ₹3.33 lakh crore pledge to US

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Billionaire Masayoshi Son is planning to "invest into the new start-up companies in the United States."

Japanese group SoftBank is on an investment promise spree.

Early this week, SoftBank CEO and Chairman Masayoshi Son has pledged to "surpass" the company's initial commitment of investing ₹66,662.22 crore ($10 billion) in India, which it sees as a "huge opportunity" due to its English-speaking population as well as the country's democratic form of governance.

Now, the billionaire businessman is making another promise—this time to U.S. President-elect Donald Trump. After a 45-minute private meeting with Trump, Son announced that he will invest ₹3.33 lakh crore ($50 billion) and create 50,000 new jobs, a move that Trump said was spurred by his recent election victory.

Son told U.S.-based reporters that he planned to "invest into the new start-up companies in the United States," but didn’t provide additional details. The pledge, however, revived speculations that telecoms giant Sprint, which is 82% owned by SoftBank, might rekindle its failed merger talks with T-Mobile U.S., according to Reuters.

The SoftBank CEO said his investment will come from a ₹6.67 lakh crore ($100 million) fund—the so-called SoftBank Vision Fund—that he started setting up early this year with several partners, including a Saudi sovereign-wealth fund, with a goal of investing heavily in fields such as Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, deep learning and robotics, according to Wall Street Journal.

Analysts, however, believed that much of SoftBank's Vision Fund might already have been destined for the United States anyway regardless of the election—it was just Son, who has a history of going straight to national leaders to talk business, decided that post-U.S. presidential elections was the time to announce it, especially since there is a chance that U.S. regulations may change in his favour under Trump's administration.

“Mr. Son already created the ₹6.67 lakh crore ($100 billion) fund and chose to invest ₹3.33 lakh crore ($50 billion) into the U.S. I suspect he would have done this whether the winner was Trump or Hillary,” Suzuki Kazuto, a professor of international political economy at Japan's Hokkaido University, tweeted.

“Son must have intended as much as half of the Vision Fund to go to the U.S., as he's aware that there are great companies in Silicon Valley. But he chose this time to announce it as Trump is now going to be the next president,” Jun Tanabe, a SoftBank analyst at JPMorgan Securities in Tokyo, told The Washington Post.

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