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Will a Saudi scandal cloud SoftBank’s US$100 billion grand vision?

25 0 10

For a chief executive famed for divining the super trends of tomorrow, SoftBank’s Masayoshi Son can sure miss the bigger plot at times.

Saudi Arabia’s murder scandal wrecking Donald Trump’s October may devastate Son’s year. It’s anyone’s guess why the US president’s team is so bizarrely obsequious toward Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The controversy surrounding the fate of US-based Washington Post writer Jamal Khashoggi is a clear and present danger to Son’s vision.

Japan’s richest man changed the global venture capital game investing like a roulette punter. Some big bets here, some there; hoping at least one will pay off.

It all dates back to 2000, when he put US$20 million on Jack Ma, who would go on to create Alibaba, netting Son US$50 billion by 2014. These days, Son swings for the fences, hoping his luck lives on.

Trouble is, the US$100 billion Vision Fund strategy Son uses to harness disrupters is largely made in Riyadh. A disproportionate amount of the fund’s cash comes from a government now a small step from total pariah status.

This, however, is not Son’s only Saudi problem. The other paradox is the gap between what Son seeks to........

© South China Morning Post