SoftBank's Son names Arora as his successor, says company will continue looking overseas

SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son promoted former Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) executive Nikesh Arora to the role of president of SoftBank--and essentially designated Arora as his successor, an indication that SoftBank will continue to look beyond its native Japan for growth. Son said SoftBank, which controls 80 percent of Sprint (NYSE: S), will be a global company and will continue to invest in mergers and acquisitions following its $21.6 billion deal to take control of Sprint in 2013.

Son announced Arora's appointment in conjunction with SoftBank's quarterly earnings. Arora will be a representative director and president of SoftBank, and Son is relinquishing his title as president. The appointment will take effect on June 19.

In July 2014, Arora said he would be leaving Google after more than a decade at the search giant. In October 2014 he became CEO of SoftBank Internet & Media. In that role he has been responsible for overseeing the company's Internet, telecommunications, media and global investment activities.

"I won't be retiring yet, and Nikesh may pass away tomorrow in a car accident. I can't comment on when and in what form, but I'm certain that he is the primary candidate to succeed me," Son said, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Son said Sprint's business is improving step-by-step, the WSJ said, with gains in postpaid customers.

Sprint said it had total revenue of $8.3 billion in the first quarter, down 7 percent year-over-year. During the quarter Sprint added 1.2 million total customers, including 211,000 postpaid customers (though Sprint lost 201,000 postpaid phone customers). The carrier's postpaid churn fell sharply to 1.84 percent, down from 2.11 percent in the year-ago period and 2.3 percent in the fourth quarter. The company ended the quarter with 57.1 million total customers, retaining its claim to the No. 3 carrier spot in the U.S. ahead of T-Mobile US (NYSE:TMUS).

Arora's appointment and Son's conviction that SoftBank will continue to look overseas for growth indicates that the parent company is going to continue to invest in Sprint's success. "From now on, our focus will be set overseas, we will be a global SoftBank," Son said.

"We expect more investments and acquisitions, even more so than now," Son added, according to Reuters. "Going forward, the overseas market will be the main factor for SoftBank."

SoftBank reported a 9 percent drop in operating profit for the fiscal year that ended March 31 to $8.2 billion (¥982.7 billion); in 2013 the company's profit benefited from one-time gains. The profit figure beat SoftBank's own forecast of $7.5 billion and was slightly ahead of the $8.18 billion average estimate of 20 analysts, according to Thomson Reuters StarMine.

For more:
- see this WSJ article (sub. req.)
- see this Reuters article
- see this Kansas City Journal article

Related Articles:
Sprint's Claure: We've got enough money to attract customers and improve our network
Sprint hints at upcoming network densification strategy using 2.5 GHz spectrum
Sprint clings to No. 3 carrier spot in Q1, as tablet customer additions are offset by phone losses
Google business chief Arora departs for SoftBank post

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