SoftBank launches blank-check company to raise $525 million

FILE PHOTO: The logo of SoftBank Group Corp is displayed at SoftBank World 2017 conference in Tokyo
FILE PHOTO: The logo of SoftBank Group Corp is displayed at SoftBank World 2017 conference in Tokyo, Japan, July 20, 2017. REUTERS/Issei Kato/File Photo

December 21, 2020

(Reuters) -SoftBank Group Corp on Monday filed to raise $525 million through a blank-check company as the Vision Fund’s managers join the craze for the listing vehicles.

The company, SVF Investment Corp, is sponsored by SoftBank Investment Advisers, which runs the $100 billion fund, and said it could invest in a new or existing portfolio company.

The launch of the special purpose acquisition (SPAC) marks an appeal to investors after earlier efforts to raise capital for a second Vision Fund floundered following missteps.

“Our SPAC will bridge SoftBank’s private and public investing strategies by enabling us to partner with a fast-growing, IPO-ready technology company,” the company said.

The group cited sectors such as artificial intelligence and robotics as possibilities, in line with its broader investing thesis.

A record number of companies are using such vehicles to bypass the traditional IPO, with portfolio company OpenDoor listing on Monday via a SPAC.

SoftBank is “agnostic” on routes to market for its portfolio and is following market trends, a person familiar with the fund said, with another investment, Slack, choosing a direct listing.

The launch comes as the group, buoyed by the sell-down of assets, uses cash reserves to take positions in listed companies.

SoftBank’s SPAC intends to have its units listed on the Nasdaq under the ticker “SVFAU” with Class A ordinary shares under “SVFA”.

Each unit of the company, consisting of one Class A ordinary share and one-fourth of a redeemable warrant, is priced at $10.

SoftBank said its IPO pricing is an estimate solely for calculating the SEC registration fee.

Citigroup, Deutsche Bank Securities and Cantor are underwriters to the IPO.

(Reporting by Chavi Mehta in Bengaluru and Sam Nussey in Tokyo; Editing by Krishna Chandra Eluri and Sam Holmes)