SoftBank Stock Rises on CEO’s Plan for $100 Billion Chip Project

(Bloomberg) — SoftBank Group Corp.’s stock rose as founder Masayoshi Son considers the creation of a $100 billion chip venture that would supply AI-enabling semiconductors.

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Shares in the Tokyo-based tech investor gained as much as 3.2% after Bloomberg News reported the 66-year-old billionaire is seeking funding for a foray into AI chips to compete with Nvidia Corp. The project, code-named Izanagi, would is aimed at building an AI chip venture that would complement Arm Holdings Plc, the chip design company in which SoftBank holds a majority stake.

Read more: Masayoshi Son Seeks to Build a $100 Billion AI Chip Venture

In one scenario Son is considering, SoftBank would provide $30 billion, with $70 billion possibly coming from institutions in the Middle East, one of the people said.

If he succeeds, the chip project would dwarf not just Microsoft Corp.’s bet on OpenAI, but would comprise roughly a fifth of the global semiconductor market. Named after the Japanese god of creation and life, the project reflects Son’s unfettered enthusiasm for the coming of artificial general intelligence. He’s often said a world filled with machines that are smarter than humans would be happier.

After a series of setbacks in his startup investments, the Japanese entrepreneur has seen Arm blossom into a solid success. SoftBank shares have gained about 30% in the last 10 trading days, with a surge in Arm’s shares of more than 80%.

In AI, Son now sees an opportunity to create a company rivaling the Magnificent Seven stocks, the people said.

SoftBank had ¥6.2 trillion ($41 billion) in cash and cash equivalents as of Dec. 31, thanks to a rebound in global equity markets. Its balance sheet got a boost from a windfall in T-Mobile US Inc. shares, worth almost $8 billion, as well as from the company’s 90% stake in Arm.

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