January 10, 2020 / 7:57 AM / 11 days ago

SoftBank's Son eyes further Indonesia investment

FILE PHOTO: Japan's SoftBank Group Corp Chief Executive Masayoshi Son attends a news conference in Tokyo, Japan, November 5, 2018. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon/File Photo

JAKARTA/TOKYO (Reuters) - SoftBank Group Corp founder and chief executive, Masayoshi Son, said on Friday he wants to expand his tech conglomerate’s investments in Indonesia, in remarks following a meeting with President Joko Widodo.

“We don’t discuss the specific numbers yet, but new smart city, newest technology, clean city, with a lot of AI, that’s what I’m interested in supporting,” Son said in comments reported by local media and confirmed by a company spokesman.

Son’s comments came after Luhut Pandjaitan, Indonesia’s coordinating minister for maritime resources and investment, told reporters earlier this week the Japanese billionaire was interested in investing in the country’s new capital city, which will replace the megacity of Jakarta.

Son did not outline specific plans to invest in the new capital, which will be constructed on the island of Borneo.

SoftBank’s investments in the world’s fourth most-populous country include a $2 billion commitment announced in July via portfolio company Grab, Southeast Asia’s biggest ride-hailing firm.

Those funds will be used to promote the use of electric vehicles in Indonesia, which is seen as a priority by the government as it attempts to improve congestion and air quality in traffic-clogged Jakarta.

SoftBank is also working on a smart city project at a township west of Jakarta, which will introduce technology like traffic monitoring cameras, in partnership with property developer PT Lippo Karawaci Tbk.

The discussions come as SoftBank faces financing pressure on multiple fronts, with the value of key technology investments deteriorating and the group trying to get a second giant tech fund off the ground.

Latin American delivery app Rappi said it is laying off 6% of its workforce, less than a year receiving a nearly $1 billion investment from SoftBank, becoming the latest portfolio company to cut staff to try and boost business performance.

Reporting by Fanny Potkin in Jakarta and Sam Nussey in Tokyo; Additional reporting by Stanley Widianto; Editing by Kim Coghill and Christopher Cushing

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