His new investments come as Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman also bets heavily on tech companies to draw know-how and expertise to the kingdom. Those efforts are part of the de facto Saudi ruler's long-term plan--called Vision 2030--to reshape the kingdom's oil-reliant economy by boosting the private sector. The country's sovereign-wealth fund, the Public Investment Fund, has amassed a nearly 5% stake in electric-car maker Tesla Inc., a senior Saudi adviser familiar with the matter said Tuesday. PIF already has taken a 45% stake in SoftBank Group Corp.'s $100 billion Vision Fund and made a $3.5 billion bet on Uber Technologies Inc. SoftBank is hiring the head of Deutsche Bank AG's unit in Saudi Arabia to lead a new office in Riyadh, with the goal of encouraging the Vision Fund's portfolio startups to set up in Saudi Arabia. "The Saudis likely see these technologies and firms are going to be part of the future…as Saudi Arabia looks to diversify away from hydrocarbon industries," said Monica Malik, chief economist at Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank.
In just under a year since the fund's launch, SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son has identified target investments for more than half of the existing Vision Fund's promised capital, deploying billions of dollars at a pace that is transforming tech investment. The fund's portfolio includes stakes in semiconductor firms such as ARM Holdings PLC and Nvidia Corp. and office-share company WeWork Companies Inc. SoftBank also plans to have the fund absorb investments in ride-hailing companies like Uber Technologies Inc. and China's Didi Chuxing Technology Co. The scale of the Vision Fund, and the pace of its investing--its choices often driven by Mr. Son's gut--is compelling other funds such as Sequoia Capital to raise billions of dollars to better compete. Current investors--which include the sovereign-wealth funds of Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi and technology giants such as Apple Inc., Qualcomm Technologies Inc. and Foxconn Technology Group--are extremely happy with the fund's performance, he said, and institutional investors are also showing interest. SoftBank expects to close the fund with a total of $100 billion in committed investments by the end of May, The Journal earlier reported.
When Masayoshi Son was a boy growing up in Kyushu, he kept a notebook to scribble down inventions he hoped to create one day. Today, the SoftBank founder has almost $100 billion to invest in making the next big thing a reality. Son's SoftBank Group Corp. closed the first round of a planned $100 billion investment fund, with money raised from Saudi Arabia, Abu Dhabi, as well as Apple Inc. and Qualcomm Inc. The Vision Fund gives the 59-year-old access to a pool of capital unparalleled in the worlds of private equity or venture capital -- the equivalent of four Silver Lakes or 15 Sequoia Capitals. He has said, without irony, that he has a 300-year plan for SoftBank and aims to build the world's most valuable company.
DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES – Saudi Arabia issued its first driver's licenses to 10 women on Monday as the kingdom prepared to lift the world's only ban on women driving in three weeks, but some who campaigned for the right to drive remain under arrest. A government statement said the 10 women who were issued licenses already held driving licenses from other countries, including the U.S., U.K., Lebanon and Canada. They took a brief driving test and eye exam before being issued the licenses at the General Department of Traffic in the capital, Riyadh. International media were not present for the event. Other women across the country have been preparing for the right to drive on June 24 by taking driving courses on female-only college campuses.