After Japanese billionaire Masayoshi Son’s company SoftBank acquired a majority stake in Sprint, he sought to merge the Kansas telecom provider with Bellevue, Wash.-based T-Mobile. U.S. regulators put up a fight and Son publicly aired his frustrations before abandoning the idea.
But Son was singing a cheerier tune after a 45-minute meeting with president-elect Donald Trump on Tuesday, according to a report from The Wall Street Journal. Could a new president — and a new chairman of the Federal Communications Commission — compel Son to once again pursue a Sprint/T-Mobile merger?
That’s one way to interpret Son’s claim, following the meeting, that he would invest $50 billion in the U.S. and create 50,000 new jobs.
“We’ll invest into the new startup companies in the United States,” Son said.
Trump later took credit for the announcement on Twitter.
Masa said he would never do this had we (Trump) not won the election!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 6, 2016
As WSJ notes, creating 50,000 jobs simply by investing in startups is a tall order. It’s led to speculation that Son and Trump’s job creation plan may also include a merger between Sprint and T-Mobile. The merger would reduce the nation’s top wireless providers from four to three but advocates of the deal say it would help Sprint and T-Mobile better compete with industry leaders AT&T and Verizon.
An influx of $50 billion in outside venture funding could have big implications for the country’s startup ecosystem as well.
Son told The Wall Street Journal the money will come from his company’s $100 billion SoftBank Vision Fund, which he set up in partnership with Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund.
Son has big ambitions for the technology industry. In July, he purchased British chip designer ARM Holdings for $32 billion in cash and he holds a large stake in China’s Amazon competitor Alibaba. During SoftBank’s last earnings call, Son said he wants to be tech’s Warren Buffett.
As noted by CNBC, Son was bullish on the U.S. long before his meeting with Trump. Last year SoftBank led a $1 billion investment in online lender SoFi, and in October SoftBank was the primary investor in a $130 million round for Zymergen, which combines biology and automation to solve problems across a variety of industries.