[TOKYO] Japan's SoftBank Group Corp said on Thursday it had launched a new US$5 billion innovation fund to invest in technology companies in Latin America.
The fund will be headed by SoftBank's Chief Operating Officer Marcelo Claure, it said in a statement, with the Japanese tech conglomerate committing an initial US$2 billion and serving as the fund's general partner.
The launch marks a ramping up of SoftBank's tech investing ambitions beyond its Saudi-backed US$100 billion Vision Fund, which has shaken up the tech industry with splashy investments in late-stage startups like ride-hailing firm Uber Technologies Inc and shared office space provider WeWork Cos.
The fund also gives Bolivian-born billionaire Claure greater responsibility in the group beyond his roles managing SoftBank's existing investments and overseeing the takeover of SoftBank's US telecoms unit Sprint Corp by Deutsche Telekom's T-Mobile.
"Latin America presents significant opportunities for SoftBank Group and the Vision Fund will have the ability to co-invest alongside the SoftBank Innovation Fund," said the Vision Fund's head Rajeev Missra, using the official name for the new fund.
The fund will invest across the region focused on much the same sectors as SoftBank's existing investments including e-commerce, fintech and healthcare.