SoftBank launches $5 bn technology fund in Latin America

Japan’s SoftBank Group is launching a $5 billion fund to invest in technology companies in Latin America.
SoftBank JapanSoftBank’s chief operating officer Marcelo Claure, who has grown up in Latin America, will head the new fund.

The SoftBank Innovation Fund will invest throughout Latin America, including in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia and Mexico. E-commerce, digital financial services, healthcare, mobility and insurance, among others, will be the target areas.

The group has already shaken up the technology sector with the Saudi-backed $100 billion Vision Fund, making splashy investments in late-stage start-ups such as ride-hailing company Uber and shared offices provider WeWork Cos.

The launch of the Latin America-focused SoftBank Innovation Fund will extend Bolivian-born billionaire Claure’s responsibility beyond managing SoftBank-owned companies like chip designer Arm, Reuters reported.

Marcelo Claure is the chief operating officer of SoftBank Group, chief executive officer of SoftBank Group International and executive chairman of Sprint Corporation, the fourth largest telecom operator in US.

Responsibility for driving synergies between minority-stake portfolio companies, which is a key rationale for SoftBank’s investment strategy, is shared between Claure and the head of the Vision Fund Rajeev Mishra.

“There is so much innovation and disruption taking place in the region and I believe the business opportunities have never been stronger,” said Claure, who is executive chairman of SoftBank’s U.S. telecoms unit Sprint Corp and is working to ensure the success of its planned takeover by Deutsche Telekom’s T-Mobile.

The fund will invest across the region, targeting much the same sectors as SoftBank’s existing investments, including e-commerce, fintech and healthcare.

Marcelo Claure, Rajeev Mishra and SoftBank chief strategy officer Katsunori Sago can be the potential successors to SoftBank Group founder Masayoshi Son.

SoftBank said the new fund will also help existing portfolio companies to expand in Latin America. SoftBank’s previous bets in the region include a $100 million stake in ride-hailing business 99, which was later acquired by another of its investments, Didi Chuxing.

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