In order to understand the broad impact of Softbank on the markets and companies in which it operates, we need to delve into the following story in which Softbank intervened for Alibaba so that the Chinese retail giant would invest in its company. In August 2017, Alibaba led an investment of $ 1.1 billion in the online trading company Tocopadia, after close competition with the Tencent Fund. Tokopedia preferred not to receive an investment from Alibaba because of competition with one of its subsidiaries. However, according to Tech-Crunch report, Softbank, a shareholder in Topopedia, has pushed Alibaba’s investment because the Chinese company has committed to invest in another Alibaba portfolio company: the Grub Cooperative Travel Company. Now, Softbank sounds completely different: “We know that the deals will be reviewed, everything is in a conversation with the government, so you choose your battles,” Clauer said.
The difference between this approach and Softbank’s past behavior is enormous. But the change in its conduct applies to its investments in American companies only. It is not certain that the moves of the US administration will restrict Softbank’s ability to influence other companies, and sometimes even entire markets. Another example of its ability to influence was in the travel-sharing market: Last year, Grub acquired Ober’s operations in Southeast Asia. Softbank holds significant shares in both companies. In addition to its investments in Ober and Grab, Softbank also invested in Didi, the most popular travel service in China, and in the Manbang truck company.
Softbank’s involvement in the Chinese travel-sharing market has actually helped it to inflate more value itself. Softbank’s investment in companies that compete directly may enable it to affect the entire market. Thus, through an active role in Chinese companies, it will be able to continue to influence Over-American, even without representation on the board of directors.