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SoftBank posts second quarter of profit as AI boom lifts shares of chip designer Arm

The Tokyo-based company earned a better-than-expected net income of 231.1 billion yen (US$1.5 billion) in the March quarter, compared with a net loss of 57.6 billion yen a year earlier, helped by investment gains at the holding company and on derivative contracts. For the full year, SoftBank reported a narrower net loss of 227.7 billion yen, beating expectations.

“The Arm [initial public offering] and share-price rally were notable positives,” said Satoru Kikuchi, a senior analyst at SMBC Nikko Securities, in a note ahead of the earnings. “Our focus is on strategic investments directed by SoftBank Group rather than diversified investments like Vision Fund 2.”

The Vision Fund has steadily sold off or written down billions of dollars’ worth of its publicly-listed holdings in recent years as Son realigns his focus. That has helped lift SoftBank’s cash pile to 6.2 trillion yen at the end of March.

In recent months, SoftBank has stepped up investments in AI-related hardware, taking controlling stakes in some cases.

The Japanese investment firm is in talks to acquire British semiconductor start-up Graphcore, Bloomberg reported.

Earlier this month, SoftBank led a US$1.05 billion funding round for UK self-driving start-up Wayve Technologies, investing along with Nvidia and existing backer Microsoft.

In 2022, a SoftBank blank-check firm merged with robotics warehouse automation firm Symbotic, and the two firms have since partnered on projects.

The heavily indebted company is also fighting the prospect of rising interest rates. On the group level, SoftBank booked a 982.2 billion yen foreign currency-denominated borrowings in the March quarter.

SoftBank’s attempts to leverage Arm technology and investing in AI services could be