SoftBank Posts $13B Loss, Alibaba Co-Founder Jack Ma Quits Board

SoftBank posts its worst loss ever and Jack Ma, co-founder of retail internet giant Alibaba, is stepping down from the board.
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Jack Ma, the billionaire co-founder of Chinese retail internet giant Alibaba Group  (BABA) - Get Report, is stepping down from the board of SoftBank after the technology investment company known for its big bets on the likes of WeWork and Uber wracked up its worst loss ever.

SoftBank announced on Monday that Ma, who has served on the board for 13 years, will step down June 25 when the company holds its annual shareholder meeting. SoftBank is run by Korean-Japanese billionaire Masayoshi Son.

The announcement came as the Japanese tech conglomerate posted an annual operating loss of $13 billion and said it would withhold its dividend as its Vision Fund lost nearly $18 billion after writing down the value of investments in WeWork and Uber Technologies  (UBER) - Get Report.

The loss is the worst in the company’s 39-year history, according to Bloomberg.

Uber’s disappointing public debut a year ago followed by the spectacular implosion of WeWork last September and its subsequent rescue by SoftBank were the two big drags on results, the company said on Monday. 

The impact of the coronavirus on the Vision Fund's portfolio of startups, particularly investments in online travel and tourism companies and so-called "sharing economy" stocks, were additional blows to the fund's overall returns. 

“The situation is exceedingly difficult,” Son said at a briefing discussing the results on Monday. “Our unicorns have fallen into this sudden coronavirus ravine. But some of them will use this crisis to grow wings.”

Alibaba's Ma and other recent high-profile departures are serving to augment Softbank's and the Vision Fund's woes.

Tadashi Yanai, head of Uniqlo operator Fast Retailing Co., stepped down from the SoftBank board at the end of 2019 after 18 years, while Nidec CEO Shigenobu Nagamori, left in September 2017.

Separately, The Wall Street Journal reported on Monday that SoftBank was in discussions to sell a significant portion of its T-Mobile  (TMUS) - Get Report stake to Deutsche Telekom AG  (DTEGY)   as it scrambles to raise additional capital.

The transaction, if completed, would boost Deutsche Telekom’s stake in T-Mobile above 50%, according to people familiar with the matter. The German company already has voting control of the U.S. mobile-phone giant under a previous agreement with SoftBank.