The Real Deal New York

Masa Son finally condemns Khashoggi murder; will maintain business relationship with Saudis

SoftBank CEO had stayed quiet while others condemn Kingdom rulers
November 05, 2018 10:30AM

From left: Mohammed Bin Salman, a photo of Jamal Khashoggi, and Masayoshi Son (Credit: Getty Images)

SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son on Monday signaled that the murder of Saudi Arabian dissident Jamal Khashoggi would not change his company’s business relationship with the Kingdom.

Nearly a month after Khashoggi’s murder, Son gave his first public remarks on the journalist’s death during a SoftBank earnings presentation in Tokyo, Recode reported.

Son — whose company has heavily invested in real estate companies like WeWork, Katerra and Lemonade —condemned the attack, but said his company has a “responsibility” to continue to invest the Saudis’ funds.

“We want to see those responsible held accountable. But at the same time, we have also accepted the responsibility to the people of Saudi Arabia — an obligation we take quite seriously — to help them manage their financial resources and diversify their economy,” he said. “As horrible as this event was, we cannot turn our backs on the Saudi people as we work to help them in their continued efforts to reform and modernize their society.”

Business leaders across the globe condemned Khashoggi’s killing. And for some, it’s even cooled their relationship with the Saudi government. Many who had planned to go to the “Davos in the Desert” finance conference in Riyadh cancelled their visit over the incident, including CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, whose Uber is backed by SoftBank.

Son said he went to the country, but skipped the conference, instead sharing his concerns with Saudi officials.

SoftBank has kept mostly quiet throughout the whole Khashoggi scandal, but the leaders of some companies backed by the bank have spoken up.

Compass CEO Robert Reffkin said SoftBank has been a “great partner” to his company and that he looks forward to continuing to grow with the bank.

“Of course, the death of Jamal Khashoggi is beyond disturbing because the freedom and safety of the press is something that is incredibly important to me,” he said. [Recode] – Rich Bockmann