Microsoft in talks to invest in SoftBank’s second Vision Fund

SoftBank is said to be preparing the announcement of a $40 billion investment in its second Vision Fund, according to a new report from The Wall Street Journal. News of the mammoth investment comes after weeks of rumors the Japanese telecom giant was struggling to secure capital for its second fund, citing lukewarm reception from investors of the firm’s initial Vision Fund.

SoftBank declined to comment.

Goldman Sachs and Standard Chartered are amongst the first confirmed investors in the second Vision Fund. SoftBank is reportedly in talks with Microsoft to invest in the fund under the condition that SoftBank encourage its portfolio companies to transition away from Amazon Web Services to Microsoft’s Azure, the company’s cloud platform. Microsoft did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Department of Justice is set to announce its approval of T-Mobile’s merger with Sprint, majority-owned by SoftBank, as soon as this week. Once the merger is confirmed, SoftBank is expected to deploy additional capital to its sophomore Vision Fund.

The debut SoftBank Vision Fund, led by SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son, has been making headlines since plans for the massive vehicle were announced in late 2016. In May 2017, the firm held a first close on $93 billion, later increasing the fund’s size to $98 billion. The fund has a general focus on global tech companies across industries including IoT, AI, robotics, mobile applications & computing, cloud technologies & software, consumer tech and fintech. To date, it’s invested large sums in Brandless, WeWork, Ola, Grab, Didi Chuxing, Uber, Lemonade and several others.

The debut fund’s largest investors are Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund and Abu Dhabi’s national wealth fund, a fact that’s ignited a debate across Silicon Valley on the ethics of accepting capital from Saudi Arabia, a country responsible for numerous human rights abuses. Apple, Qualcomm and Foxconn Technology are among the first Vision Fund’s other LPs.

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