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How Far Along is SoftBank’s Vision Fund After Reaching its First Close?

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On the heels of U.S. President Donald J. Trump in Saudi Arabia, Japan-based SoftBank Group announced its first major close regarding the gargantuan SoftBank Vision Fund. Japanese billionaire Masayoshi Son, Chairman of SoftBank, was also in Riyadh at the time. After Trump’s victory over Hillary Clinton in the U.S. Presidential election, Son met with Trump, pledging US$ 50 billion of investment into the United States, thus seeking to create 50,000 U.S. jobs.

Initial investors backing the fund include Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF), Mubadala Investment Co., Qualcomm, Sharp Corporation, Apple Inc., and Foxconn Technology Group. PIF has the largest commitment at US$ 45 billion and will reserve the right to participate in certain deals. The Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) has not fully-confirmed its participation in the fund. When fully-funded, the global SoftBank Vision Fund will be the largest private equity-style, technology-focused fund ever formed.

The SoftBank Vision Fund aims to “accelerate the information revolution,” looking to back investments in robotics, computational biology, mobile applications, cloud technologies, consumer internet businesses, artificial intelligence (AI) and financial technology. The Vision Fund will seek to buy minority and majority ownership interests in both private and public companies. These companies could be both mature, established businesses, all the way to, emerging technological companies. The fund will target investments starting at US$ 100 million or more. Also, PIF had invested billions into Uber Technologies, while SoftBank invested in Chinese taxi app Didi. With that being stated and to avoid potential conflict, the Vision Fund plans to not participate in taxi-app deals.

When fully-funded, the global SoftBank Vision Fund will be the largest private equity-style, technology-focused fund ever formed.

Vision Fund Investor Table

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Mergermarket Gets Ready to be Sold

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Private equity firm BC Partners hired Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and JPMorgan Chase & Co. to advise on the sales of Acuris. Acuris is a collection of financial news and data sites, which includes Mergermarket, Dealreporter, and Debtwire. In 2017, BC Partners sold around a 30% stake in GIC Private Limited.

Before the rebranding to Acuris, Mergermarket was part of The Financial Times Group until 2013 when it was sold off to BC Partners.

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Why Japan Post Sees Promise in Aflac

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Aflac Inc. is an American insurance company founded in 1955. The company is the biggest provider of supplemental insurance in the United States. Aflac also has major operations in Japan.

In December 2018, Japan Post Holdings (JPHLF) signaled it was spending US$ 2.64 billion for a 7-8 % stake in Aflac. The goal is that, in four years time, Aflac will become an affiliate of Japan Post. Japan Post hopes to accomplish this by becoming the largest voting shareholder of the company. The world’s 13th largest company, with 400,000 employees, Japan Post needs to expand to chase further growth, mainly because Japan Post expects the postal business to decline. Diversification is seen as the optimal route to long term stability for the holding company. Japan’s economy is worrying. Japan’s aging population means that many insurance companies are facing a shrinking customer base, Japan Post settled on a plan to expand overseas.

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RDIF and Development Agency of Serbia Agree to Explore Joint Investments

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The Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) and the Development Agency of Serbia, also known as Razvojna agencija Srbije, reached an agreement to work together to identify attractive investment projects to strengthen bilateral economic ties and increase investment flows between Russia and Serbia. Russian capital and businesses are keen on investing in Serbia.

In addition, the two countries signed an agreement to cooperate on civil nuclear energy, according to state-owned Russian reactor builder Rosatom (Rosatom State Nuclear Energy Corporation). Rosatom continues to expand it business of nuclear cooperation deals in a wide number of countries.

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