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SoftBank Said to Write Down $1.5 Billion Greensill Holding

This content was published on March 1, 2021 - 13:57

(Bloomberg) -- SoftBank Group Corp.’s Vision Fund has substantially written down its $1.5 billion holding in Greensill Capital, and is considering dropping the valuation to close to zero, people familiar with the matter said.

The writedown occurred at the end of 2020, one of the people said, asking not to be identified because the decision isn’t public. Representatives for SoftBank and Greensill declined to comment.

In recent months, the supply-chain finance company owned by billionaire Lex Greensill has been looking for ways to raise capital with the ultimate aim of going public, people familiar with the matter have said previously.

However, the firm has been seeking to cut risk on its bank loan book under pressure from the German regulator BaFin, separate people familiar with the matter said. On Monday, key customer Credit Suisse Group AG suspended funds that invest in Greensill products amid concerns about the size of its exposure to firms linked to U.K. industrialist Sanjeev Gupta, according to a Credit Suisse statement and people familiar.

Gupta is the head of GFG Alliance and invests in and revamps moribund steel and power plants. Securities linked to Gupta and arranged by Greensill were among investments at the center of a 2018 crisis at Swiss asset manager GAM Holding AG that brought down star trader Tim Haywood. Loans linked to GFG also featured prominently in supply-chain finance funds at Credit Suisse, for which the bank teamed up with Greensill.

The investment into Greensill by the Vision Fund was led by former managing partner Colin Fan, who recently left his role at the behemoth investment fund. SoftBank redeemed $700 million from the Credit Suisse funds last year, amid conflict of interest accusations. Many of the companies that were financed by the investment vehicles were also Vision Fund portfolio companies, including Indian hotel chain Oyo and Fair Financial Corp.

The Vision Fund has rebounded from a rocky spell over 2020, reporting a 844.1 billion yen ($7.9 billion) profit in the three months ended Dec. 31, surpassing record numbers set just a quarter earlier.

(Updated with additonal context.)

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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