Jean Pierre Verster of Protea Capital Management presented his investment thesis on SoftBank Group (Japan: 9984, US: SFTBY) at Best Ideas 2022.

Thesis summary:

SoftBank Group is an investment holding company founded in 1981 by Masayoshi Son (“Masa”). The company has gone through four distinct phases, each with a different driver of growth: from 1981 to 1996 SoftBank Group was a leading software distributor.

From 1996 to 2006 it was a pioneer of the internet, launching Yahoo! Japan and investing $20 million in a small Chinese start-up named Alibaba.

From 2006 to 2014, SoftBank Group made a bet on the mobile internet age when it acquired Vodafone Japan and, shortly thereafter, introduced the iPhone to Japan. SoftBank Group also acquired US-based Sprint, which it later merged with T-Mobile.

From 2014 to date, SoftBank Group has positioned itself as a driver of the Artificial Intelligence revolution, including launching the world’s largest technology-focused venture capital fund, the $100 billion Vision Fund. It also acquired ARM, a leader in semiconductor technology.

Marred by some recent controversies, SoftBank Group’s shares have traded at a discount of more than 50% to its net asset value recently, which offers an attractive investment opportunity.

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About the instructor:

Jean Pierre Verster is the founder & CEO of Protea Capital Management, an investment management firm headquartered in Johannesburg, South Africa. He was part of the investment team at 36ONE Asset Management, which manages the largest hedge fund in South Africa, from 2010 to 2016. He partnered with Fairtree Asset Management thereafter to launch the Protea range of hedge funds. In 2019, he founded Protea Capital Management as a stand-alone investment management business. Since 2015, Jean Pierre also serves as an independent non-executive director at Capitec Bank, the largest retail bank in South Africa by number of clients, where he is chairman of the audit committee.

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