If you want proof we’re living in a global economy, just take a look at SoftBank.
On Monday, Masayoshi Son, the chief executive of the Japanese telecommunications and Internet conglomerate, announced an American as a future successor. Son said Vice Chairman Nikesh Arora was a strong candidate to lead the company into the future.
“He’s 10 years younger than me, and he has more abilities than me,” Son told reporters at an earnings briefing, according to The Economic Times. “The last nine months I’ve spent with him have made me sure of that, but I’m not going to retire soon.”
Last July, Arora left Google to run a newly created unit called SoftBank Internet and Media, reporting directly to Softbank’s billionaire founder. The new move may be an indication of further expansion abroad. In 2013, Softbank took over U.S. mobile operator Sprint. Japanese firms, with some notable exceptions, tend to keep management in the hands of Japanese people. But Son isn’t your typical Japanese executive. Ethnically, he’s Korean-Japanese, so the cultural restriction doesn’t seem to have much of a hold on him.
The CEO said it was the first time since he founded SoftBank that he had given the title, “president” to someone else.
“From now on, our focus will be set overseas, we will be a global SoftBank,” he added, according to the Wall Street Journal.
For the fiscal year, SoftBank reported an operating profit of ¥982.7 billion ($8.2 billion). While this came in short of the ¥1.07 trillion in 2013, it beat its target of ¥900 billion. Net profit climbed 29% to ¥763.68 billion, and revenue jumped 30% to ¥8.67 trillion.
Some big Japanese multinationals have already gone the non-Japanese CEO route. Nissan chose Carlos Ghosn, a French, Lebanese-Brazilian businessman to be its chairman and CEO. Sony also tapped Welsh-born Howard Stringer to be its president and CEO for several years. But Arora’s ascent at Softbank, if it happens, will be the first on the Japanese telecom, Internet end.
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