SoftBank bails out Katerra with $200M cash injection

Deal makes Japanese firm majority stakeholder in construction startup

Katerra CEO; SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son and Katerra CEO Paal Kibsgaard (Photos via Katerra; Getty; iStock)
Katerra CEO; SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son and Katerra CEO Paal Kibsgaard (Photos via Katerra; Getty; iStock)

Once bitten, twice shy? Not so for Japanese investment firm SoftBank, which despite its ill-fated bet on WeWork has agreed to pump a pile of cash into another real estate tech startup.

SoftBank plans to invest another $200 million into struggling construction startup Katerra, a move that will effectively save it from bankruptcy, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Under the deal, Greensill Capital, a financial services company also backed by SoftBank, will get a 5 percent stake in Katerra in exchange for erasing about $435 million in debt, the Journal said. SoftBank will also become Katerra’s majority stakeholder.

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Katerra CEO Michael Marks (right) is stepping down, and COO Paal Kibsgaard is taking his place. (Credit: Sergey Mihailicenko/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images; SAM YEH/AFP via Getty Images)
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Katerra was founded in 2015 with a goal of transforming the $12 trillion global construction. But the company has had a patchy record, struggling with delays, cost overruns and mass layoffs.

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Katerra’s co-founder Michael Marks stepped down as CEO in May to work full-time for venture capital firm WRVI Capital.

“I greatly respect the backing that we got from SoftBank and wish them the absolute best and hope that I can be helpful,” he told the Journal in a statement Wednesday.

Paal Kibsgaard, formerly Katerra’s chief operating officer, stepped in as CEO with a directive to get the company’s finances in order.

SoftBank said in a statement Wednesday that Kibsgaard “addressed several operational inefficiencies and improved the financial trajectory of Katerra,” adding that the firm remained “committed to the company’s long-term vision and believes the current leadership team has the ability to make this vision a reality.”

[WSJ] — Sylvia Varnham O’Regan