Softbank Reorganizes for Global Internet Growth

MUNICH (03/08/2000) - Softbank Corp. today announced a major reorganization that it says will put a more international focus on its expansion plans.

The Tokyo-based Internet investment company has created a new division called Softbank Global Ventures, to be headed by Chief Executive Officer Ron Fisher, which will include all of Softbank's private equity organizations outside of Japan, according to a Softbank statement today.

The Global Ventures group will, in turn, be made up of two units: Softbank Venture Capital, to be headed by President and Executive Managing Director Gary Rieschel, and Softbank International Ventures, headed by President and Executive Managing Director Eric Hippeau. Both unit heads will report to Fischer, Softbank said.

Softbank Venture Capital will incorporate the company's U.S. activities, including the "successors" to Softbank's already-existing U.S.-based funds, one out of Silicon Valley that invests in early-stage Internet companies, and a Newton, Massachusetts based fund that invests in later-stage startups, Softbank said.

Softbank International Ventures includes all other markets outside of Japan and the U.S. That includes Softbank Latin America Ventures, a fund that concentrates investments in Brazil, Mexico and Argentina, Softbank Emerging Markets, its partnership with the World Bank's IFC to invest in Internet companies in developing nations, eVentures, Softbank's U.K. partnership with News Corp., @viso, Softbank's partnership with French conglomerate Vivendi SA, Softbank Europe Ventures, Softbank U.K. Ventures and units operating in China, India, Korea, Australia and New Zealand.

Hippeau's New York-based division expects to invest some $2 billion in these markets, and will also look at investing in new markets, Softbank said.

Softbank is also looking to expand more directly in Europe. The company today separately announced the formation of two new funds, a $550 million dollar fund for Internet ventures in the U.K., and a $450 million fund for continental Europe. Both funds will be overseen by Hippeau. Both funds plan to make their first investments by the second quarter.

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