Alibaba IPO boosts Masayoshi Son as he's crowned Japan's 'richest man'

Son's Softbank made a $20 million investment in little known Alibaba 14 years ago- and the Japanese businessman is now reaping the benefits

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The Independent Online

Softbank's chief executive Masayoshi Son has become Japan's richest man with an estimated personal fortune of $16.6 billion...And he may have to send Alibaba a thank you note for it.

Shares in Softbank, which owns a 37 per cent stake in the Chinese e-commerce giant, have surged ahead of Alibaba's initial public offering with shares expected to begin trading on Friday in New York.

And this is good news for the Japanese businessman.

Son's Softbank invested $20 million in the Chinese company back in 2000 before the relatively unknown turned into an e-commerce behemoth.

His bet paid off and Alibaba's IPO is already proving a huge win for Son, who owns a 19 per cent stake in Softbank, and recently indicated he has no immediate plans to sell the company's stake in Alibaba.


On Tuesday, Alibaba raised its float price range from $60-$66 a share to $66 to $68 citing strong demand. At $68 per share, the float would value Alibaba at $168bn (£104 billion) and raise more than $25 billion, making it the biggest public offering ever.

The float price would also be good news for Yahoo- a minority investor in Alibaba with a 22 per cent stake which has seen its share price jump ahead of the IPO. Unlike Softbank, Yahoo has already indicated it plans to sell 140 million shares and return at least half the cash from the IPO to shareholders, which could be in the form of a stock buyback or a dividend.