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SoftBank’s Nikesh Arora resigns, says can’t be CEO-in-waiting any more

The 48-year-old Nikesh Arora has been instrumental in SoftBanks's investments in Indian entities like Snapdeal, Ola, Grofers, and Oyo Rooms.

By: ENS Economic Bureau | Mumbai | Updated: June 22, 2016 2:30:19 am
Softbank, Softbank ceo, softbank nikesh arora, nikesh arora, arora, nikesh arora resigns, nikesh arora softbank, softbank news, business news, company news Nikesh Arora has not commented on his next move. REUTERS/Toru Hanai/File photo.

SoftBank President and chief operating officer Nikesh Arora, under fire from investors, has resigned from the company with effect from June 22, bringing an abrupt end to a high-flying career in the Japanese technology player.

Arora, who was widely seen as a successor to Masayoshi Son, chairman & CEO of SoftBank Group (SBG), will continue in an advisory role with effect from July 1. The resignation of India-born Arora, one of the highest paid corporate executives who took home a pay packet of $135 million in 2014-15, came a day after Softbank announced an independent committee found that investors’ allegations against Arora were without merit.

“I had hoped to hand over the reins of SoftBank to him on my 60th birthday, but I feel my work is not done. I want to cement SoftBank 2.0, develop Sprint to its true potential and work on a few more crazy ideas. This will require me to be CEO for at least another five to ten years — this is not a time frame for me to keep Nikesh waiting for the top job,” Son said. Since joining SoftBank nearly two years ago, Arora has spent nearly $4 billion investing in startups around the world in a hunt for a break-through technology firm capable of driving future growth.

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A section of Softbank investors had complained to the board against Arora for poor performance in making investments for SoftBank, conflict of interest as Arora remains a senior advisor with PE firm SilverLake, personal interests put ahead of those of SoftBank and the huge compensation package.

Arora, an alumni of IIT-BHU, Varanasi and Northeastern University (MBA), joined SoftBank from Google, where he was the chief business officer in September 2014. During his tenure, SBG invested in a set of ground-breaking growth-stage companies in India like Snapdeal, Ola, Oyo, Grofers, Housing and extended its footprint in Asia successfully with Coupang in Korea and the ride-share player Grab in Southeast Asia.

Recently, the company sold a small part of its shareholding in Alibaba Group to reduce leverage and improve financial health over the long term. SBG entered an agreement to sell its stake in Supercell for $7.3 billion.

“Nikesh Arora and I have been partners in creating SoftBank 2.0. He has been able to help think through our vision, future growth plans and articulate the SoftBank strategy. He brought world class execution skills to SoftBank, as evidenced in our myriad of investments over the last year, as well as the complex monetisation of our Alibaba stake, and most recently our successful sale of Supercell. I am indebted to him for his contributions,” Son said.

Son said Arora and he decided that Arora would move to an advisory role and continue to support SoftBank, “while he zeroes in on his next challenge.” “He will continue to be friend of SoftBank, and I will have my hand on his shoulder,” Son said.

“I have enjoyed working with Masa and the SoftBank team and I look forward to my next challenge. In the meantime I will continue to support SoftBank and our investee companies,” Arora said.

Arora took the position of vice chairman of SBG and CEO of SB Group US, Inc (the former SoftBank Internet and Media, Inc) in September 2014 and has been involved in the execution of the group’s growth strategy.

“He then assumed the position of representative director and director of SBG in June 2015. Masayoshi Son had been considering Arora as a strong candidate for succession. Son’s intention was to keep leading the group in various aspects for the time being, while Arora wished to start taking over the lead in a few years time. The difference of expected timelines between the two leads to Arora’s resignation from the position of representative director and director of SBG with the expiration of the term of office and his next steps,” SoftBank said.

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