SoftBank profits rise, party on gains from Saudi-tied fund

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TOKYO (AP) — Japanese technology company SoftBank has reported a 36% year-on-year increase in profit for the fiscal year through March, partly on gains from its Vision Fund.

After the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, SoftBank said it would diversify sources of its funding for investments. Much of the Vision Fund money had come from Saudi Arabia.

SoftBank Group Corp., whose mobile subsidiary is boosting its stake in Yahoo Japan to 45% from 12%, said Thursday that its annual profit totaled 1.4 trillion yen ($12.8 billion). The Tokyo-based company did not break down quarterly net profit figures, or offer forecasts.

Chief Executive Masayoshi Son said a second Vision Fund of about the same scale as the first one, counting new investors as well as previous ones, will be announced soon. The exact amount, date and structure of the fund are still undecided.

The first fund totaled about $100 billion in investments. Son told reporters it had been a success.

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He said he will continue to invest in artificial intelligence and other technologies that can enhance businesses like ride-sharing and medical services by anticipating demand or spotting cancer in very early stages.

“AI will work as an innovation for all sectors,” he told reporters, saying the so-called internet revolution had revived just advertising and consumer retailing.

The SoftBank Vision Fund is the top investor, with a 16% stake, in Uber Technologies, whose IPO is set for Friday.

SoftBank Group, which has invested in British IoT company ARM, and U.S. wireless company Sprint, offers internet and solar electricity services, and developed Pepper, the talking companion robot.

Sprint’s proposed merger with T Mobile is still being reviewed by U.S. regulators.

SoftBank Group shares have gyrated but gradually risen, nearly doubling in value over the last five years.

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