Japan's SoftBank Group CEO Masayoshi Son. Photo: AFP / Kazuhiro Nogi

Major Japanese technology investor SoftBank Group said Wednesday its net profit plunged nearly 70% for the nine months to December as investments in share companies such as WeWork and Uber took a hit.

Its bottom-line profit lost 69.0% to 476.6 billion yen (US$4.3 billion) for the period as the firm suffered an operating loss of 13.0 billion yen.

The operating loss was largely “due to a decrease in the fair values of investments including Uber and WeWork and its three affiliates,” the company said in a statement.

The company did not publish its outlook for the year to March 2020.

The disappointing results follow a turbulent period for the firm. CEO Masayoshi Son has faced criticism over his commitment to start-ups some say are overvalued and lack clear profit models.

SoftBank has taken stakes in some of Silicon Valley’s hottest start-ups through its $100 billion Vision Fund.

The group last year announced its long-mooted Vision Fund 2, again targeting about $100 billion, but investors have been slower to commit this time around.

In the second quarter to September, the group reported an operating loss of 704.4 billion yen, the worst in its history.

But it returned to the black for the three months to December, reporting 2.6 billion yen in operating profit, still down from 438.3 billion yen a year earlier.

Shares in SoftBank have risen recently on news US hedge fund Elliott Management has built a more-than-$2.5 billion stake in the group.

On Wednesday, stocks rose another 11.88% after news that the T-Mobile and Sprint merger had been approved – more than two years after it was first announced.

The merger reduces the risk that SoftBank will need to fund its unit Sprint, which will help improve the parent firm’s balance sheet, analysts said.

– AFP

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