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SoftBank Managing Partner Colin Fan Steps Back From Vision Fund

Gillian Tan and Giles Turner
·3-min read

(Bloomberg) -- SoftBank Vision Fund managing partner Colin Fan is leaving his role at the behemoth investment fund, marking the second departure of a managing partner this month, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

The executive, who was previously head of global markets and co-head of corporate banking and securities at Deutsche Bank AG, has focused on financial technology bets at the fund. He will become an adviser to SBIA, SoftBank Group Corp.’s investment arm, according to the people.

A representative for the Vision Fund declined to comment. Fan couldn’t be immediately reached for comment.

Jeff Housenbold, the managing partner involved in its bets on startups including DoorDash Inc. and dog-walking startup Wag, is also leaving. Munish Varma, a managing partner based in London, is moving to San Francisco, taking on part of Fan’s responsibilities, the people said.

Fan oversees the Vision Fund’s holdings in companies Alibaba Local Services, Fair, Flexport, Greensill, Guazi and Zume, according to the fund’s website. At least one of those companies, Greensill, in which the Vision Fund injected $800 million in May 2019 and another $655 million in October of that year, has faced recent struggles.

Founded by billionaire Lex Greensill, the finance firm is considering raising capital as its banking arm faces regulatory scrutiny and some of its clients face withdrawals. The company specializes in extending short-term loans to companies secured against invoices, many of those loans are then packaged into funds.

Fan is one of several Deutsche Bank alumni who have taken senior positions at SoftBank and influenced the Japanese company’s culture. Rajeev Misra, another former executive at the German bank, heads up the SBIA and the fund.

The Vision Fund went through a round of job cuts last year after the business reported an $18 billion loss amid the coronavirus pandemic. The cuts, which reduced headcount by as much as 15%, disproportionately affected staff responsible for supporting portfolio companies, known internally as the operating group, people familiar with the matter said at the time.

Earnings have since recovered thanks to the speculative frenzy sweeping the global markets. The Vision Fund will probably post its second quarter of record profits when SoftBank announces earnings next month helped by the market debut of DoorDash Inc. and a 37% gain in Uber Technologies Inc.’s shares.

Profit in the coming quarters is likely to receive a boost from more portfolio companies planning initial public offerings, a list that includes South Korean e-commerce giant Coupang Corp., online insurance platform Policybazaar and used car retailer Auto1 Group GmbH. SoftBank also raised $525 million through a blank-check company.

SoftBank shares rebounded last year after tumbling during the early days of the coronavirus pandemic. They reached a new 20-year record last week, their highest level since February 2000.

(Updates with earlier job cuts in eighth paragraph)

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