SoftBank is planning to lend $20 billion to its employees, including the CEO Masayoshi Son, with the hope that the employees will reinvest the capital in SoftBank. This according to them, is their Second Vision Fund, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported. The CEO could get more than half of the $20 billion, according to sources.
WSJ said the loans may have an interest rate of about 5%.
Some analysts are of the view that this highly unusual move could be risky in terms of overall exposure SoftBank Group will have.
The upside is that the move can potentially fill out as much as a fifth of the $108 billion Second Vision Fund from investors with the same goal.
The Japanese company announced its second Vision Fund last month. The fund includes $38 billion from SoftBank itself, as well as commitments from investors.
The government of Kazakhstan – one of the investors, is expected to make a contribution of about $3 billion while banks such as Goldman Sachs Group Inc, Britain’s Standard Chartered PLC and Japan’s Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc have also indicated they are willing to invest several hundred million dollars each, according to sources.
The WSJ reported that SoftBank also took a similar approach to its original Vision Fund, with stakes from employees provided with loans totaling $8 billion of that $100 billion commitment.
Some analysts said that the potential pay-off can be big, provided the fund has some solid winners that achieve liquidation events that offer big returns that employees can use to pay off the original loans, and walk away with profit. That could still be risky though amid volatile markets.
For instance, the Uber shares that Vision Fund I acquired are now less in value than what SoftBank originally paid for, WSJ stated; and SoftBank bet WeWork may turn out to be another company whose IPO might not make that much, if any, money for later stage investors.