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Son's consistent strategy is yielding a new kind of business group

BANGKOK For years, even after SoftBank went public on the Tokyo stock market in 1994, many in the Japanese business establishment treated the company as an ugly duckling, as it did not seem to fit into any conventional category.

Its main business at that time was software wholesaling. It soon invested in the Comdex computer trade show and Yahoo of the U.S., and founded Yahoo Japan as a joint venture with Yahoo. But industry watchers were still confused. Was it a wholesaler? Was it a dot-com company? Was it an investment company like Berkshire Hathaway? It didn't seem to fit into any of these categories.

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