July 7, 2022

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SoftBank liquidates most of portfolio at ‘Nasdaq whale’ trading unit

2 min read

SoftBank has liquidated almost all of the positions in its abortive internal hedge fund SB Northstar after racking up between $6bn and $7bn in losses in the unit behind the notorious “Nasdaq whale” trades.

The writing has been on the wall for the Japanese technology conglomerate’s buccaneering trading unit since November, when SoftBank’s founder Masayoshi Son told investors “the company called SB Northstar . . . is about to come to an end”.

Akshay Naheta, the former Deutsche Bank trader based in Abu Dhabi who ran the unit, left SoftBank on Thursday, according to a person familiar with the matter. The 40-year-old is known for executing complex derivative transactions and earned notoriety for spearheading SoftBank’s controversial bet on the shares of fraudulent payments company Wirecard.

Regulatory filings show that SB Management — Northstar’s investment manager — held a little over $1bn in US-listed stocks at the end of 2021, down from more than $17bn one year earlier. The bulk of its remaining positions were in special purpose acquisition companies, including vehicles sponsored by its own Vision Fund, SoftBank shareholder Elliott Management and Vision Fund investor Mubadala.

The winding down of Northstar comes as SoftBank looks to slow investments across the group as it seeks to raise cash amid falling tech stocks and a regulatory crackdown in China.

A person familiar with its portfolio said that most of its European investments were liquidated around the same time, including a $5bn bet on Swiss drugmaker Roche that had been profitable. The person added that there were less than a handful of positions left, which had been transferred to SoftBank Group.

“I don’t think there’s a reason for them to dump anything else immediately, because there are other things that they can sell that are more liquid,” he said, noting that a recent rebound in SoftBank’s Chinese technology stocks had eased pressure on the group to raise…

2022-04-02 07:00:53

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