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Japanese tech billionaire Masayoshi Son to invest $50 bn in new startups in US

07 December 2016

Japanese tech billionaire Masayoshi Son has promised to invest $50 billion in new startups in the US and committed to creating 50,000 new jobs.

Son is the founder and chief executive of Japanese technology and telecoms giant SoftBank, which owns the US mobile carrier Sprint. Sprint shares rose sharply with the announcement. Son was seen being escorted down the elevator of Trump Tower by the president-elect. 

"We are going to invest $50 billion in the US and commit to create 50,000 new jobs," Son told reporters. "We (will) invest into the new startup companies in the United States."

According to commentators, the announcement came as the latest instance of Trump appearing to be conducting economic policy via ad-hoc deal-making and at times, taking credit irrespective of whether he deserved it.

Last week, Trump spoke at the Carrier furnace plant in Indianapolis after the company announced plans to retain 800 jobs at the plant instead of outsourcing them to Mexico (See: From Carrier plant Trump vows to 'punish' firms seeking to move overseas). Trump lost no time claiming he had saved those positions, even though the company would be shifting more than 1,000 jobs from that factory and another Indiana plant to Mexico. 

Taking credit for Son's commitment yesterday, Trump tweeted: "Masa said he would never do this had we (Trump) not won the election!"

Shares of Sprint were up 1.5 per cent and T-Mobile rose 1.8 per cent on speculation Son's pledges could aid an eventual deal. SoftBank was  up 6.2 per cent at the close of trade in Tokyo.

SoftBank's strategy was aimed at investing in lean startups which could see it struggle to deliver on his job promise, some commentators pointed out. The 50,000 jobs target exceeded the combined workforce of Sprint, SoftBank's most recent acquisition ARM Holdings Plc and its e-commerce unit Yahoo Japan Corp.

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