Alibaba founder Jack Ma exits Softbank board after record loss of $13bn

The group reported an annual operating loss of $13bn, its first annual loss in 15 years

                                

SoftBank has warned that it may not pay a dividend for the coming financial year, following an $18bn (£14.6bn, €16.3bn) loss from the Vision Fund that plunged the Japanese group its largest annual loss in its history and one of the largest ever by a Japanese company.

The group reported an annual operating loss of ¥1.36tn ($13bn), its first annual loss in 15 years. It reported a profit of $19.6bn during the same period last year.

It also withheld dividend guidance for the first time since its 1994 listing as founder Masayoshi Son’s biggest bets via the $100bn Saudi-backed investment fund fell amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Alongside the results, SoftBank also announced that Alibaba founder Jack Ma would step down as a director after 13 years. 

Shares in SoftBank closed up 1 per cent before the earnings release. The gains came after the company said it would buy back as much as ¥500bn of its own stock by March 2021, in the first tranche of the ¥2tn buyback plan announced two months ago.

The stock has climbed 72 per cent since reaching a four-year low on March 19, a sell-off that prompted SoftBank to unveil the buyback plan and a $41bn asset sale to reduce debt of ¥6.8tn. 

Ma’s resignation from the board follows the departure of other long-serving directors including Fast Retailing chief executive Tadashi Yanai, Nidec founder Shigenobu Nagamori and former Goldman Sachs banker Mark Schwartz.

Mr Ma and Mr Son are close friends and have been business partners since the SoftBank founder made an invesrment in Alibaba, in 2000. 

SoftBank said Ma had asked to resign for “personal reasons”. 

SoftBank said it would add two new non-executive directors to its board who include Lip-Bu Tan, founder of San Francisco-based venture capital fund Walden International and chief executive of Cadence Design Systems, and Yuko Kawamoto, a professor at Waseda Business School and its first outside director.

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