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SoftBank Group triples net profit in first quarter

Tokyo

JAPAN'S SoftBank Group said on Wednesday its first-quarter net profit more than tripled thanks to exceptional gains related to the sale of shares in Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba.

The company announced net profit of 1.12 trillion yen (S$14.6 billion) for the three months to June, up 257.6 per cent compared to the same period a year before.

"It is the first time our quarterly net profit surpassed one trillion yen," CEO Masayoshi Son told reporters.

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"It's a remarkable performance," he said. SoftBank Group said the growth was boosted by delayed gains from its 2016 sales of shares in Alibaba, which had an impact on income of 857 billion yen.

Sales rose 2.8 per cent to 2.34 trillion yen while operating profit dipped 3.7 per cent to 690 billion yen.

Under tycoon Son, SoftBank, which started as a software firm, has morphed into an investment firm, ploughing funds into a broad range of companies and projects outside its core business.

Last month, the company said it would team up with tech firms including Apple and Microsoft in a new US$108-billion investment fund to accelerate the "AI revolution".

Talking about the new fund, Mr Son said on Wednesday, "I have the same feeling as when I went to mountains as a child for an adventure, searching for excitement." "Maybe it's funny to say this but I feel like I'm in the middle of my youth, even though I'm physically old." The new fund is the long-mooted successor to its mammoth Saudi-backed Vision Fund. AFP