After Meeting Trump, Japanese Mogul Pledges $50 Billion Investment in the U.S.
The brash and outspoken founder of SoftBank, Masayoshi Son, has long been known for his outsize ambitions, from taking on the United States’ biggest telephone companies to creating a $100 billion fund for technology deals.
On Tuesday, Mr. Son, a Japanese mogul, struck another big pledge after meeting with President-elect Donald J. Trump: to invest $50 billion in the United States, a move that he said would create some 50,000 jobs.
本周二，日本大亨孙正义在与候任总统唐纳德·J·特朗普(Donald J. Trump)见面后，又许下了一个重大承诺：在美国投资500亿美元，他说此举将创造约5万个工作岗位。
But the $50 billion investment pledge is not an entirely new initiative that SoftBank is undertaking. Instead, the money is projected to come from the Japanese company’s previously announced Vision fund, a $100 billion vehicle for investing in technology companies worldwide.
The fund — which includes Saudi Arabia, a target of Mr. Trump’s ire during the presidential campaign, as a key partner — was always expected to strike a significant portion of its deals in the United States.
Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Mr. Son said the new jobs would come from investing in American start-ups. Mr. Trump later declared on Twitter, “Masa said he would never do this had we (Trump) not won the election!”
Mr. Son’s visit to Trump Tower in Manhattan on Tuesday was the latest outreach by global business leaders to an incoming president seen as friendlier to corporate interests. On Friday, the Trump transition team announced the formation of a business advisory group, led by Stephen A. Schwarzman, the chief executive of the private equity behemoth the Blackstone Group, that would consult monthly with the Trump White House.
孙正义周二对曼哈顿特朗普大厦的拜访，是全球商业领袖对未来总统的最新示好，一些人认为特朗普对企业利益更加有益。上周五，特朗普过渡团队宣布组建一个商业咨询小组，由私募股权投资巨头黑石集团(Blackstone Group)首席执行官苏世民(Stephen A. Schwarzman)担任领导，在特朗普任内每月与白宫开展讨论。
The advisory group was noticeably shy of technology names; Mr. Son is perhaps the most prominent tech executive so far to have met with the president-elect.
Although it has its headquarters in Japan, SoftBank has deep roots in the United States. It is the majority owner of the wireless operator Sprint, which two years ago unsuccessfully pursued a takeover bid for T-Mobile. That effort was effectively blocked by the Obama administration on antitrust grounds.
Mr. Son was not expected to discuss specific issues with Mr. Trump during their meeting, including the prospects of renewing a Sprint bid for its rival, according to a person briefed on the matter. Shares of Sprint and T-Mobile briefly rose Tuesday afternoon, before giving up their gains.
Beyond what Mr. Trump and Mr. Son said, “we aren’t able to say more,” a SoftBank spokesman in Tokyo, Matthew Nicholson, said.
“I just came to celebrate his new job,” Mr. Son, 59, told reporters at Trump Tower. “I said: ‘This is great. The U.S. will become great again.’ ”
Such bold talk is customary from the American-educated Mr. Son, who has built one of Japan’s biggest personal fortunes through sometimes brash deal-making. SoftBank, which began life as a software distributor, became one of Japan’s biggest phone service companies through shrewd negotiations that gave the company early exclusive rights to the iPhone. It has since become a global empire with stakes in the likes of Sprint and Alibaba Group of China and in a welter of start-ups in the United States and abroad.
This year, Mr. Son struck a $32 billion takeover of ARM Holdings, a British chip designer whose products sit at the heart of devices like the iPhone.
Like the president-elect, Mr. Son has been known for sometimes impolitic remarks. As Mr. Son sought to compete against Verizon and AT&T with his investment in Sprint, he compared the quality of American wireless service to the air quality of Beijing. And he threatened to set himself on fire in the offices of Japan’s telecommunications regulator on at least one occasion.
In speaking with reporters alongside Mr. Trump on Tuesday, Mr. Son clutched what appeared to be a presentation from the meeting. One page featured the logos of both SoftBank and Foxconn, the Taiwanese manufacturing giant that assembles Apple’s iPhone. On the page — and circled — was the text committing to investing $50 billion in the United States and generating 50,000 jobs over the next four years.
Below it appeared to be Mr. Son’s signature.
Foxconn said in a statement that it was in preliminary discussions about a potential American expansion, adding that the scale had not yet been decided. Foxconn has said in the past that it plans to expand its limited operations in the United States.
Any Foxconn investment is not likely to mean a major flow of jobs back to America. The company has been plowing funds into automation and has said in the past that it would invest in a plant to build robots in Pennsylvania, indicating that new American jobs would probably be higher-end and limited in number.
Foxconn employs about one million workers in China. But many of those jobs are low skilled, and as overall wages have risen in China, their pay levels have become less appealing to workers there. Maintaining enough staffing to meet production needs can be a challenge.