Japan-based SoftBank may scale up its planned investment of $10 billion in the coming years as the telecom and Internet giant sees the “beginning of Big Bang” for the world’s second most populous market.
SoftBank Chairman and Chief Executive Masayoshi Son said Internet and solar are the sectors that excites him, but wants the government to develop a robust mobile phone infrastructure and resolve slow Internet issues.
“If I rescale, I will scale up. What will $10 billion become, I don’t know. If I have said that we will invest $10 billion in 10 years, we have invested $2 billion in a year. That’s over pacing and I think we will accelerate,” he said at the Startup India Conference here. He added the more he knows about India on every visit, the more he gets excited.
Stating that 21st century belongs to India, he said there exist huge opportunities in India. “Every market is different. I truly think this is really the beginning of Big Bang for India.” “In the next 10 years India will repeat the growth China saw in the last 10 years and in my opinion, India could be
bigger (than China).”
Stating that Indians are smart, English speaking, IT-proficient, he said, “All these things make me believe that the 21st century is of this country.” “We are very happy with the portfolio we have. We will continue to look for new opportunities. Internet and solar are the sectors that excite me,” he said.
Son, Japan’s second-richest person with a net worth of $14.1 billion, said infrastructure was important and mobile broadband infrastructure was lacking in India. “I think mobile Internet is too slow. More spectrum allocation to the mobile carriers is needed so that they can have better mobile broadband,” he said.
SoftBank had in 2014 announced plans to invest $10 billion in India over the next decade. It has already put in $627 million into online marketplace Snapdeal and smaller investments in property site Housing.com.
Its unit, SoftBank Internet and Media Inc is leading a group of investors putting an investment of $210 million in ANI Technologies Pvt, which runs the Ola Cabs taxi booking service. It paid $200 million for a 35 per cent stake in InMobi, an Indian mobile-advertising network.
It also has a joint venture with India’s Bharti Group, Bharti SoftBank, the investments of which include the mobile application Hike Messenger.
SoftBank in June had entered India’s solar energy sector with a venture with Bharti Enterprises and Foxconn Technology Group of Taiwan. The Japanese group will own the majority stake in the new venture, SBG Cleantech that will bid to build 20 GW of solar power plants. Under the partnership, Foxconn will help manufacture solar equipment, and the venture will consider producing some locally.