Softbank Corp. and Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, the Public Investment Fund, will launch a $100 billion tech fund. And heading it will be India-born Rajeev Misra.
The 54-year-old Misra, currently head of strategic finance at Softbank, is a former debt trading veteran. He has, in the past, worked with Germany’s Deutsche Bank and Swiss financial company UBS AG and had joined Softbank almost exactly two years ago, after leaving global investment management firm Fortress Investments Group LLC, where he had worked for less than a year.
Misra’s elevation to head the new London-based Softbank Vision Fund is interesting as it comes just under four months after Softbank’s India-born former president and chief operating officer Nikesh Arora quit the Japanese telecom and investment company after a group of anonymous shareholders accused him of leading Softbank into making poor investment decisions as well as of conflict of interest. Arora quit soon after even as an internal probe cleared him of any wrongdoing.
Misra, who is also an independent director on the board of Eros International Plc, the holding company of the Indian movie production and distribution company Eros International Media Ltd, has a master’s in computer science from the University of Pennsylvania and an MBA from MIT Sloan School of Management. According to his Facebook profile, he also holds a B Tech in mechanical engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi and did his schooling from Delhi Public School, at Mathura Road in Delhi. Forbes reported in July last year that Misra is married to interior designer Shalini Misra and lives in London.
Softbank spokespersons based out of Tokyo and India declined to comment for this report.
The fund will have $25 billion from Softbank and $45 billion from the Saudi wealth fund, to begin with, and will make its $100 investment over a five year period.
What makes this huge investment more interesting is the fact that it comes even as investors are concerned about valuations of tech companies like Uber and Airbnb. Softbank has, in fact, been betting heavily on the technology sector and had purchased UK based chip designer Arm Holdings for more than $24 billion.
Saudi Arabia wants to break its reliance on oil, which has seen a slump in prices in the last two years, and the country’s royal family is therefore looking to diversify its portfolio.
A finance veteran, Misra was a senior managing director and partner at global investment management firm Fortress Investment Group, and he has also worked at UBS where he was global head for fixed income, currencies and commodities between 2009 and 2013. Before that, he spent more than 10 years at Deutsche Bank as its global head of credit and emerging markets.
While little is publicly known about Misra, in a 2014 interview published on Softbank’s own website, he said he had joined the Japanese company “because it’s very stimulating and educational to work in a different industry.” “We are playing a role in the latest industrial revolution that is going on in our planet,” he went on to say.
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