SoftBank removes board members including Rajeev Misra, Marcelo Claure

WeWork Executive Chairman Marcelo Claure during an interview with Andrew Ross Sorkin at WeWork headquarters in New York City on February 10, 2020.

David A. Grogan | CNBC

SoftBank, the Japanese technology holding company, announced Monday that Vision Fund chief Rajeev Misra and Chief Operating Officer Marcelo Claure are among four directors resigning immediately from the company’s board.

Misra and Claure will continue in their executive positions. Katsunori Sago, SoftBank’s chief strategy officer and governor and Yasir O. Al-Rumayyan, board member of the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia, are also stepping down from the SoftBank board.

SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son is making the changes to improve the perception of board independence. SoftBank added four new board members in June who were not affiliated with the company’s operations.

“The changes to our Board build upon the enhancements we made in June, including ensuring we have a greater proportion of External Board Directors, and further highlight SoftBank’s commitment to corporate governance,” Son said in a statement.

Son’s decision making has been called into question several times in recent years. He invested billions of dollars into WeWork, pushing the start-up to a $47 billion private valuation, only to see the company’s worth plummet in a failed attempt at going public in 2019.

The Vision Fund, the $100 billion Saudi-backed private investment vehicle, has altered investment strategies after the WeWork collapse and the pandemic shutdowns. Recent changes have included pulling back on the pace of investment and looking for companies with clearer paths to profitability. SoftBank has also struggled to raise money for its second Vision Fund, initially slated to be a $104 billion investment vehicle.

Son’s move to invest in publicly traded technology stock derivatives has also been called into question by investors as too risky.

Still, SoftBank’s results have improved as 2020 has progressed. SoftBank shares are up more than 60% this year, far outpacing the S&P 500, which has gained 12%. The Vision Fund, which owns more than 80 partial stakes in technology companies all over the world, reported a record $7.6 billion profit for the three months ended Sept. 30. Misra has pleaded with the investment community to give the fund time to show returns rather than judging outcomes too quickly.

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