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SoftBank 'anxious' over Saudi journalist Khashoggi situation

COO 'uncertain' about further investment in new Vision Fund

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, left, and Softbank CEO Masayoshi Son. Saudi Arabia's contribution's to the Group's tech fund may be in jeopardy over the fate of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.   © AP

PALO ALTO, U.S. -- SoftBank Group's chief operating officer said Tuesday that the company was "anxiously watching" developments regarding missing Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, with the incident having brought the Japanese investment group's ties to the Saudi government into the spotlight.

"We, like most parties in the world, are watching events unfold," said Marcelo Claure at a technology conference in California for British chip design company Arm Holdings, a SoftBank Group unit. "We are just monitoring," he said.

Khashoggi was last seen entering the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2.

Riyadh faces growing criticism from Western companies following allegations of direct involvement in Khashoggi's disappearance.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman told Bloomberg earlier this month that the country's Public Investment Fund would contribute $45 billion to a new investment vehicle being explored by SoftBank Group. The PIF has already invested $45 billion in the $100 billion Vision Fund, the world's biggest technology investment vehicle, launched by SoftBank last year.

"There's no certainty," Claure said when he was asked whether SoftBank would accept capital from the PIF if it were offered. "Nobody has said there's a specific date" for the closing of the second Vision Fund.

"I think it's too early for us to have a judgment on" any potential participation, he added.

Separately, Arm Chief Executive Simon Segars spoke about changes that have taken place in his company following its acquisition by SoftBank in September 2016.

The partnership has allowed the company to invest in several areas simultaneously, he said. "I'd probably have to pick one or two [areas] and place some bets [before]. We can now do that in a much broader way than we would have been able to previously."

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