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    Executive overseeing investments leaves Japan’s SoftBank

    Yuri Kageyama

    TOKYO (AP) – Marcelo Claure, who joined SoftBank Group after turning around one of its key investments, office-sharing business WeWork, is leaving, the Japanese technology company said yesterday.

    Claure has long been seen as a close aide to SoftBank Chief Executive Masayoshi Son, forging a partnership spanning nine years and overseeing a sprawling investment portfolio.

    Tokyo-based SoftBank Group Corp said the departure was “by mutual agreement”. SoftBank did not give a reason for his decision to leave. Some reports said he had disagreements with the company over his compensation. SoftBank declined comment.

    His departure may resurrect ongoing speculation about a successor to Son, who founded SoftBank in 1981.

    He has made it clear he wants to groom the next generation of leaders at his company, known for daring, and sometimes flop, investments.

    Claure, who moved to the United States (US) from Bolivia, has worked on key projects, including the turnaround of US mobile carrier Sprint and its merger with T-Mobile. Claure is a former executive chairman of Sprint.

    Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure speaks to reporters as he leaves the courthouse in New York on January 15, 2020. PHOTO: AP

    He helped revamp WeWork after its founder Adam Neumann resigned in 2019. Claure also helped launch a large venture capital fund in South America.

    “Marcelo has made many contributions to SoftBank during his time here, and we thank him for his dedication and wish him continued success in his future endeavours,” Son said.

    Claure said he was grateful to Son for being his mentor.

    “Beyond the value we have created for SoftBank stockholders, we have invested in some of the most innovative and disruptive companies that will be industry leaders for decades to come,” he said.

    In a move related to Claure’s departure, Michel Combes, a former chief executive at Sprint, is becoming chief executive of SoftBank Group International, another position Claure held.

    Combes joined as president in 2020.

    The company has had high-profile departures before. Jack Ma, Alibaba’s co-founder, resigned from the board in 2020. Nikesh Arora, a former top executive at Google, left SoftBank several years ago.

    One contributing reason may be that shareholders of Japanese companies tend to be relatively more zealous in scrutinising the paychecks of executives than in the US.

    Among SoftBank’s investments are Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, US ride-hailing company Uber and insurance startup Lemonade.

    Although its financial results have often proved volatile, Son insists some choices have stood the test of time. The company reports its earnings on February 8.

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