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SoftBank's Masayoshi Son remakes his inner circle with 3 new appointments

Tokyo

MASAYOSHI Son elevated two SoftBank Group Corp executives and one outsider to his inner circle, appointments that become official on Wednesday.

The board approved the nominations of Marcelo Claure, Rajeev Misra and Katsunori Sago as executive vice- presidents. Mr Sago also joined Mr Misra and Mr Claure as a board member after a shareholder vote at the general meeting in Tokyo.

The personnel changes mark the biggest overhaul in SoftBank's top management since Mr Son brought in Nikesh Arora from Google in 2014 and kicked off the telecom giant's transformation into a strategic holdings company.

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Mr Son has said that SoftBank's main business is the information revolution, but his investment targets have spanned an eclectic range of endeavours, from lithium mines to insurers and soccer tournaments. SoftBank hasn't elaborated on the exact portfolios of the new appointees, and investors will be keen to find out how they fit into Mr Son's vision.

"SoftBank is a very flexible organisation, so you can expect their roles to evolve over time," said Atul Goyal, an analyst at Jefferies Group. "Until we know more, the only relevance for investors is that of Masa."

  • Marcelo Claure, the Bolivian entrepreneur, has been with SoftBank the longest. The 47-year-old was originally hired by Mr Son when the Japanese conglomerate acquired his phone distribution company, Brightstar. Mr Claure grew the upstart mobile-phone vendor into a US$7 billion business. He is seen as a kindred spirit to Mr Son, who also came from humble beginnings growing up in a Korean immigrant family on the island of Kyushu.
  • Rajeev Misra's ties to SoftBank date back to 2014. He was hired as head of strategic finance from alternative-asset manager Fortress Investment Group LLC, which SoftBank has since acquired. The 56-year-old cut his teeth in proprietary trading at Deutsche Bank and has been singled out as driving the lender's controversial push into structuring and sales of exotic instruments.

He leads SoftBank's US$100 billion Vision Fund, a technology-focused private equity effort with big backers including Saudi Arabia and Apple Inc. Mr Misra has been a SoftBank board member since June 2017.

  • Katsunori Sago is by far the newest and least known addition to Mr Son's inner circle. Mr Sago, a graduate of University of Tokyo's engineering school, spent 22 years at Goldman Sachs Group Inc's Japanese unit, where he became deputy president. In 2015, he joined Japan Post Bank Co, where as a vice-president he spearheaded a portfolio shift away from sovereign bonds. The 50-year-old banker is now SoftBank's chief strategy officer. BLOOMBERG