Committed to India in the long term, says SoftBank's India head Sumer Juneja

Sunny Sen

SoftBank has said it remains firm in its commitment to India, an assurance that comes at a time when the Japanese multinational conglomerate has taken a hit following investments in startups such as WeWork, Uber, and Slack.

In November, SoftBank reported its first quarterly loss in 14 years, calling into question CEO Masayoshi Son's decision to invest in startups. Son admitted to poor judgment with regard to office-sharing startup WeWork after the company's Vision Fund reported a loss of $8.9 billion.

"We have a $10 billion portfolio in India between SoftBank Group and SoftBank Vision Fund. We have an optimistic outlook, a fundamental belief in the country's potential and remain committed to India in the long term," Sumer Juneja, Partner and Head of India, SoftBank Investment Advisers, told Tech2.

Son, during his 2016 visit to India, said he would like to be remembered as a crazy guy bet on the future.

That year he launched SoftBank Vision Fund-I, a $100- billion fund, which raised money from other investors, too, and invested hundreds of millions in technology startups.

For Son and SVF-I, India was an important market.

"After the WeWork debacle we expected that Indian investments will come under scrutiny, but that is not happening," said a founder of one of the companies SoftBank invested in. "The (SoftBank) investments got delayed but these investments have started coming in."

Recently, Paytm announced a funding round of $1 billion, out of which $200 million came from SoftBank. Another $400 came from Alibaba, one of SoftBank's most successful and earliest investments.

"SoftBank's other investments in India might come in soon," said another person close to the development. The other investments in the pipeline are in Snapdeal, eyewear company Lenskart, and online content firm DailyHunt.

Son is in the process of raising money from SVF-II. "Investment in Lenskart will come from SVF-II," said a third person close to the developments in SoftBank. "All first-time investments in companies will come from SVF-II, and top-up investment will come from SVF-I."

The Snapdeal investment, however, would come directly from SoftBank Group, the source said. When Son had first cut a cheque for Snapdeal, SVF did not exist and the investment had come from SoftBank Group.

The third source also said that while the investments would be a "little stringent, a little slow because of better due-diligence", SoftBank would continue to make big and futuristic bets in India.

Also See: Uber has entered new era of focussing on profits, CEO Dara Khosrowshahi feels he's the right guy for the company now

Paytm is looking at raising another round of $1 bn; former UK PM David Cameron may also invest

WeWork is laying off 2,400 employees globally after a $9.5 bn bailout by investor SoftBank Group

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