Japanese multinational Softbank Group is reportedly gearing up to launch an investment fund exclusively for Latin America, with plans to purchase stakes in the region’s prospective business startups.
The fund will be managed by the Group’s Chief Operating Officer Marcelo Claure, a Bolivian American with wide contacts across Latin America.
The fund will soon be announced officially, reported Bloomberg citing sources familiar with the matter. The Japanese multinational is likely to allocate US$1 billion to the fund.
Softbank is not new to Latin America, but its LatAm investments are very small compared with its operations elsewhere in the world.
It made its first entry into the region in 2017 when it invested US$100 million in Brazilian ride-hailing app 99. A year later, it ploughed similar amount of money into Loggi, another Brazilian startup.
Thanks to Softbank’s arrival, venture capital investments in Latin America surpassed US$1 billion for the first time in 2017, with three tech startups gaining unicorn status.
All these investments came from Softbank’s Vision Fund. But this time it will act as a venture capital fund. Softbank runs offices in Sao Paulo, Buenos Aires, and Mexico City.
Claure came into Softbank’s fold in 2013 when the Japanese company acquired a majority stake in Brightstar, a phone distributor. He was tasked with a challenge of reforming Sprint, US telecom operator. He became Softbank’s chief operating officer last year when Sprint was sold to T-Mobile USA.