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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