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Softbank Commits $1 Billion to U.K., European Ventures

Softbank Corp. announced Wednesday that it will commit more than $1 billion to entrepreneurial Internet ventures in the U.K. and Europe.

The two new funds, Softbank UK Ventures (SBUKV) with $450 million, and Softbank Europe Ventures (SBEV) with $550 million, will both be overseen by Eric Hippeau, president and executive managing director of Softbank International Ventures.

SOFTBANK said in a statement that the two new funds will be complementary to existing relationships with epartners and Vivendi.

Masayoshi Son, president and chief executive officer of Softbank, said he believes there is enormous potential for entrepreneurial Internet ventures in key European markets.

"The U.K. and continental Europe have a heritage of developing leading edge technologies. Our goal is to leverage this heritage and accelerate the application of the Internet platform to business and consumer needs in these dynamic markets," said Son.

With Internet penetration in the U.K. and continental Europe expected to rise to 150 million users by 2003, venture capital is flooding into the market to support start-up companies.

"Our goal is to have a significant impact on the establishment of new Internet businesses in Europe, thereby contributing to economic growth and job expansion in this high potential market," said Eric Hippeau.

SBUKV, based in London, expects to announce its first investments in the second quarter of 2000, investing the whole $450 million over a 12 to 14 month period.

SBEV, based in Paris and Munich, will also announce its first investments in the second quarter, and has plans to open further offices in Nordic, Benelux and southern European countries "as soon as possible."

Softbank now has an investment and shareholding in more than 300 Internet companies worldwide, including Yahoo!, E*TRADE and ZDNet.



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