‘SOFTBANK MULLS RAIS­ING NVIDIA STAKE’

Ja­pan firm plans to work more closely with US chip­maker, say sources

New Straits Times - - Business -

SAN FRANCISCO

SOFTBANK Group Corp, the Ja­panese com­pany that raised a US$93 bil­lion (RM394 bil­lion) fund for tech­nol­ogy in­vest­ments, is con­sid­er­ing boost­ing its stake in chip­maker Nvidia Corp, peo­ple fa­mil­iar with the mat­ter said.

The firm would raise its hold­ing over time and be­gin to work more closely with Nvidia, the peo­ple said.

“We con­sider our­selves longterm part­ners to com­pa­nies, whether pri­vate or pub­lic,” SoftBank said in an emailed state­ment.

SoftBank had bought a 4.9 per­cent stake, just un­der the amount that would re­quire a reg­u­la­tory dis­clo­sure in the United States, mak­ing it the fourth­largest share­holder in the graph­ics chip­maker, peo­ple fa­mil­iar with the sit­u­a­tion said pre­vi­ously. The hold­ing has a mar­ket value of about US$4.1 bil­lion.

SoftBank’s chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Masayoshi Son is work­ing to be­come the world’s most pro­lific tech­nol­ogy in­vestor, and closed the first round of capital com­mit­ments for his Vi­sion Fund this month. He has used money from his do­mes­tic tele­com op­er­a­tions to pay for in­vest­ments in star­tups in China, In­dia and the US and for acquisitions of larger com­pa­nies such as the United King­dom’s ARM Hold­ings Plc and US wire­less op­er­a­tor Sprint Corp.

Mi­crosoft Corp has the right of first re­fusal to buy the shares if an­other com­pany tries to take a more than 30 per cent stake, Nvidia has said in reg­u­la­tory fil­ings.

Un­der its founder, Jen-Hsun Huang, Nvidia has be­come one of the chip­mak­ers lead­ing the charge to pro­vide the un­der­pin­nings of ma­chine in­tel­li­gence in every­thing from data cen­tres to cars. As the big­gest maker of graph­ics chips, Nvidia has proved that type of pro­ces­sor’s abil­ity to per­form mul­ti­ple tasks in par­al­lel has value in new mar­kets, where ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence is in­creas­ingly im­por­tant.

Nvidia shares rose 2.59 per cent to close at US$141.84 in New York on Fri­day, giv­ing it a mar­ket value of US$84.1 bil­lion.

The Santa Clara, Cal­i­for­ni­abased com­pany has been a good bet for those that backed it. Its stock more than tripled last year and is up 32 per cent this year. Bloomberg

BLOOMBERG PIC

Nvidia Corp pres­i­dent and CEO Jen-Hsun Huang shows a Nvidia high-end com­put­ing mod­ule at an event in Las Ve­gas. The com­pany is the big­gest maker of graph­ics chips.

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