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SoftBank's Son said to plan meeting with Trump in New York

Tuesday, December 6, 2016 - 15:00

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SoftBank Group Corp founder and chief executive officer Masayoshi Son is planning to meet with President-elect Donald Trump in New York on Tuesday, a person with direct knowledge of the matter said.

[NEW YORK] SoftBank Group Corp founder and chief executive officer Masayoshi Son is planning to meet with President-elect Donald Trump in New York on Tuesday, a person with direct knowledge of the matter said.

Mr Son, 59,  has no specific agenda but wants to meet Mr Trump as an investor in the US, including in wireless operator Sprint Corp, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the matter is private. Shares in SoftBank rose on the news, climbing 2.5 per cent to 6,975 yen in Tokyo, their highest since Aug. 31.

The Japanese billionaire is in the process of raising a US$100 billion investment fund and is interested in putting some of the money into the US, the person said. Mr Son made his fortune from investments in Japan and China, but has had a mixed record in the US.

SoftBank bought control of Sprint in 2013 only to see it lose ground to rivals including T-Mobile US Inc. Mr Son's attempt to engineer a merger between the No 3 and No 4 wireless players was rebuffed by the Obama administration, but a new government may have a different take on communications policy.

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"You can imagine that Mr Son would want to discuss T-Mobile at the meeting," said Tomoaki Kawasaki, an analyst at Iwai Cosmo Securities Co. "There is a chance that the incoming administration will have a different approach to telecom regulations. Mr Son has said before that Sprint needs T-Mobile to compete with the top-two operators in the US market."

The Trump transition team in New York didn't respond to requests for comment Monday on whether a meeting had been scheduled. SoftBank wasn't immediately able to comment.

As he prepares to take office on Jan 20, Mr Trump has picked several well-known figures from the world of finance for key administration posts, including former Goldman Sachs Group Inc partner Steven Mnuchin as Treasury Secretary and investor Wilbur Ross as Commerce Secretary.

The president-elect has met with numerous other business leaders at Trump Tower in New York, including Marion Blakey, CEO of Rolls Royce North America Inc, and Robert Johnson, the founder of Black Entertainment Television.

On Tuesday, Mr Trump is scheduled to meet with Exxon-Mobil Corp CEO Rex Tillerson, who's said to be under consideration for secretary of state.

Mr Son said last week during a trip to India that he is close to tying up the US$100 billion for a technology fund that SoftBank announced with the government of Saudi Arabia. SoftBank and Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund unveiled the new venture in October with the Japanese company saying it will invest US$25 billion, while Saudi Arabia committed US$45 billion.

The two have been talking to other investors for the remaining US$30 billion. When plans for the fund were first announced, Mr Son said that he planned on being the biggest investor in technology over the next decade.

"I am talking to a few investors and I think we are oversubscribed," Mr Son said at an event in New Delhi on Friday, without providing details. He said he came to the city straight from a visit to Saudi Arabia.

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