Japan’s SoftBank has made another acquisition to widen both its business strategy and its portfolio of investments. Today the company announced it would pay $3.3 billion in cash to acquire the Fortress Investment Group, an asset manager and investor in its own right, with significant holdings in Lyft, ZestFinance, Xapo, Jawbone and other tech companies.
This is SoftBank’s second dalliance with Fortress, in a sense. Recently, SoftBank committed to start a $100 billion, new investment endeavor called the Vision Fund (which includes Apple as a $1 billion backer, among others): the Vision Fund is run by Rajeev Misra, who joined SoftBank from Fortress.
The news today comes after reports of a possible acquisition emerged this week.
The deal introduces a new chapter into the ongoing story of Softbank’s larger investment strategy — which changed under the leadership of Nikesh Arora to focus much more aggressively on investing in tech companies, but appeared to be changing tack again and slowing down after Arora’s departure and SoftBank’s big purchase of ARM in the U.K. for $31.4 billion.
SoftBank’s CEO Masayoshi Son said that it would run the business independently, led by existing Fortress principals Pete Briger, Wes Edens and Randy Nardone, but that it would also be working “alongside” the Vision Fund.
“Fortress’s excellent track record speaks for itself, and we look forward to benefiting from its leadership, broad-based expertise and world-class investment platform,” said Son in a statement. “For SoftBank, this opportunity will immediately help expand our group capabilities, and, alongside our soon-to-be-established SoftBank Vision Fund platform, will accelerate our SoftBank 2.0 transformation strategy of bold, disciplined investment and world-class execution to drive sustainable long-term growth.”
“SoftBank is an extraordinary company that has thrived under the visionary leadership of Masayoshi Son,” said Fortress co-chairmen Pete Briger and Wes Edens in a statement. “We are very pleased to announce an agreement setting our business on a great path forward as part of SoftBank, while creating significant value for our shareholders. We join a company with tremendous scale and resources, and a culture completely aligned with our focus on performance, service and innovation. We anticipate substantial benefits for our investors and business as a whole, and we have never been more optimistic about our prospects going forward.”
SoftBank said the deal has been unanimously approved by a special committee of independent directors of publicly-traded Fortress’s board of directors and Fortress’s full board of directors.