NEW YORK (Reuters) – SoftBank Group Corp Chief Executive Masayoshi Son, under pressure from hedge fund Elliott Management to rein in his mercurial investment style, turned on the charm in a meeting with U.S. investors on Monday, but offered few concrete concessions.
“I promise you I’ll start to be more careful and listen. My view doesn’t change, but my behavior becomes a little more careful,” sources quoted Son as telling investors who attended his presentation at the Lotte New York Palace hotel in Manhattan.
Son, who built SoftBank into a technology investment powerhouse, is now having to defend his track record after several of its expensive bets on startups, including office space-sharing firm WeWork, soured.
Elliott, which oversees $40 billion in assets, has held discussions with SoftBank’s management and is calling on the company to buy back some $20 billion of its stock, improve its governance by increasing the independence and diversity of its board and improving transparency, sources said last month.
Son said on Monday he had not given enough weight to the opinions of investors and the company’s independent board members, according to three sources who attended the meeting which was closed to media and provided details on condition of anonymity.