Softbank Announces Cheung Wah Strategy, Blasts Competitors

In a briefing late last week, Internet behemoth Softbank Corp. outlined
the strategy of its Hong Kong/China vehicle, Cheung Wah Development.

Softbank Corp completed the acquisition of a 61.1 percent stake in Cheung Wah
Development, to be renamed Softbank Investment International (Strategic)
Limited (“Softbank Strategic”), on Friday for HK$207.4 million
(US$26.76 million).

The strategy outlined included the creation of three divisions – the
Internet Business Development, the Net-Trans Business and the Time Machine
divisions. Senior officials of the new company said the Internet Business
Development division would focus on identifying and evaluating new
investment opportunities for Softbank Strategic while the Time Machine
Division would concentrate on rolling out successful business models from
overseas operations into the local market.

The Net-Trans Business division plans to capitalize on
the growing e-commerce sector by forming joint ventures with old economy
businesses, providing capital and expertise to help them transform into
tomorrow’s e-businesses.

While the company’s planned strategy was the main focus of the briefing, an
emotional outburst about competitors in the market from Softbank
Strategic’s CEO — Yoshitaka Kitao — received the most attention.

Kitao, regarded as
one of the smartest men on the Internet, told those at the briefing that he
had no plans to co-operate with the two other major players in the rapidly
developing Hong Kong-China Internet sector, Hikari Tsushin and Pacific
Century Cyberworks. Kitao expressed anger towards what he deemed Hikari president Yasumitsu
Shigeta’s blatant copying of Softbank’s business
strategy.

Kitao then described Pacific Century chairman and major shareholder
Richard Li as a “greedy man” only interested in making money for himself,
and that because of these philosophical differences saw no reason for
co-operation between the two companies.

Later, founder and president of Softbank Corp. Masayoshi Son said he did
not agree with those views, that those views did not reflect those of the
company and that he regarded Shigeta and Li as good friends.

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