SoftBank Group triples net profit in first quarter

Tokyo (AFP) –


Japan's SoftBank Group said Wednesday its first-quarter net profit more than tripled thanks to exceptional gains related to the sale of shares in Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba.

The company announced net profit of 1.12 trillion yen ($10.5 billion) for the three months to June, up 257.6 percent compared to the same period a year before.

SoftBank Group said the growth was boosted by delayed gains from its 2016 sales of shares in Alibaba, which had an impact on income of 857 billion yen.

Sales rose 2.8 percent to 2.34 trillion yen while operating profit dipped 3.7 percent to 690 billion yen.

Under tycoon CEO Masayoshi Son, SoftBank, which started as a software firm, has morphed into an investment firm, ploughing funds into a broad range of companies and projects outside its core business.

Last month, the company said it would team up with tech firms including Apple and Microsoft in a new $108-billion investment fund to accelerate the "AI revolution."

The new fund is the long-mooted successor to its mammoth Saudi-backed Vision Fund, which has taken stakes in leading tech start-ups from Uber to WeWork.

The announcement of Vision Fund 2 made no mention of Saudi Arabia among the investors, though reports ahead of the unveiling suggested Riyadh was in negotiations to put money into the fund.

In May, Son told reporters the fund was "the most important management engine" for his firm.