SoftBank to buy Fortress Investment for $3.3 billion

Wed Feb 15, 2017 7:35pm EST
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By Thomas Wilson

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan's SoftBank Group Corp (9984.T: Quote) on Wednesday said it has agreed to buy Fortress Investment Group LLC (FIG.N: Quote) for about $3.3 billion, looking to add investment expertise as it prepares to launch the world's largest private equity fund.

The all-cash deal is SoftBank's first major investment in an asset manager and represents yet another unpredictable gambit for a group that has to date focused on telecoms and technology.

It comes after founder Masayashi Son made the surprise announcement in October that SoftBank is teaming up with Saudi Arabia to set up a $100 billion technology fund.

Buying private equity and alternative investment heavyweight Fortress could help SoftBank move to financing investments with private equity cash instead of debt, said Gerhard Fasol of Eurotechnology Japan, a consultancy.

"Son's strategy appears to be to use Fortress's know-how to move from debt financing to private equity. It's a logical progression for the company," he said.

SoftBank hired one of Fortress's senior executives, Rajeev Misra, in 2014. Misra now runs the SoftBank-Saudi Arabia fund.

New York-listed asset manager Fortress's investments span real estate, hedge funds and private equity.

It had $70 billion in investments under management at the end of September 2016, and is one of few global foreign investors with funds that are targeted at Japanese assets.   Continued...

A man talks on the phone as he stand in front of an advertising poster of the SoftBank telecommunications company in Tokyo October 16, 2015. REUTERS/Thomas Peter