In a Financial Times article it was noted that SoftBank has been holding internal discussions on whether to relocate the unit that manages its $100bn Vision Fund from the UK to Abu Dhabi, according to multiple people with direct knowledge of the talks. The move has been under discussion for several weeks within the Japanese technology conglomerate, these people said.
Some have noted that the move stems from a desire to lower its taxes and be closer to one of the main backers of the Vision Fund, Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala sovereign investment vehicle, which has put $15bn into the technology investment fund. Some note that such a shift could put distance between SoftBank Investment Advisers, the unit formed in late 2016 to manage the Vision Fund, and UK regulatory oversight.
The unit, which employs around 400 staff, is currently registered in the UK and run out of a townhouse in Mayfair in central London. As part of the talks, Rajeev Misra, who runs the Vision Fund from London, is considering moving his primary residence to Abu Dhabi. According to multiple people with direct knowledge, Mr Misra was in the Gulf emirate recently looking at homes and schools for his family. A person close to Mr Misra confirmed that SoftBank was looking at the move, but stressed that the probability of something happening would be low and that his family would not be moving.
This person said that the move was primarily driven by an attempt by the Japanese conglomerate to capture a substantially lower tax rate for profits booked by SBIA. The corporate tax rate in the UK is 19 per cent, while in Abu Dhabi it is zero per cent, with some exceptions. Other people with knowledge of the discussions said the company had been debating the issue for months for regulatory benefits beyond reduced tax rates.
Akshay Naheta, who like Mr Misra previously worked at Deutsche Bank before eventually joining SoftBank, has already relocated to Abu Dhabi, according to people with direct knowledge of his move.
In February, the Financial Times reported that Mr Misra had been in talks to set up a hedge fund-style vehicle based in Abu Dhabi and had lined up $4bn in support from Mubadala, which in turn helped recruit interest from the government of Kazakhstan. The FT reported that fund was due to be based in Abu Dhabi and run by Mr Naheta. In June, the FT reported Mr Naheta had been given a new executive role at SoftBank and was no longer working in SBIA under Mr Misra.
Softbank has invested in blockchain entitieS such as OneConnect which is an advanced tech provider of AI and Blockchain cloud platform and biometrics identifiation to SME Financial services businesses.
As such the move could mean more investments into entities in the GCC and MENA region including blockchain and fintech..