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SoftBank CEO won’t shun Saudi investment despite the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi

SoftBank CEO won’t shun Saudi investment despite the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi
[Photo: Flickr user Nobuyuki Hayashi]

SoftBank has been on a tear in the last few years thanks to its $100 billion Vision Fund, which allows the Japanese giant to scoop up smaller companies and invest in new technologies, as most companies can only dream of.

But the Vision Fund unexpectedly saw itself in a nightmare PR scenario after the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi was carried out in the Saudi Embassy in Turkey. You see, SoftBank took a $45 billion investment from the Saudi government for its Vision Fund–in other words, the Saudis bankrolled 45% of SoftBank’s fund. So what is SoftBank to do in the wake of worldwide condemnation of the Saudi’s actions?

It turns out SoftBank won’t do anything, instead continuing on with the Saudi investment in their Vision Fund as normal–for now, at least. Speaking to investors after the company’s second-quarter results Monday, SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son said the murder of Jamal Khashoggi was an “act against humanity,” but he went on to say that SoftBank “cannot turn our backs on the Saudi people as we work to help them in their continued efforts to reform and modernize their society.”

Here are his full comments, which were translated to English by a live interpreter (via Axios):

We were deeply saddened by the news of Mr. Khashoggi’s murder and condemn this act against humanity and also journalism and free speech. This was a horrific and deeply regrettable act. Therefore we have raised our concerns with the party and we believe that this should not have happened.

The other day there was an event held by Saudi Arabia, and I did not participate in the conference and I cancelled the participation. However I did visit Saudi Arabia and the reason is because I wanted to meet directly with senior Saudi officials and wanted to raise our concerns with them. We want to see those responsible held accountable.

At the same time, we have also accepted the responsibility to the people of Saudi Arabia, an obligation we take quite seriously to help them manage their financial resources and diversify their economy. As horrible as this event was, we cannot turn our backs on the Saudi people as we work to help them in their continued efforts to reform and modernize their society. So we hope to see those responsible held accountable.

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