SoftBank Is Selling $40B of Assets but Stands Firm on Renewable Energy Plans
The head of SoftBank's renewable energy subsidiary, SB Energy Global, says his firm is committed to growing its presence in international clean energy markets despite ongoing financial struggles at the parent company — and new ones stemming from the coronavirus pandemic.
"SoftBank is not exiting the solar business or the renewables business,” SB Energy Global CEO Raman Nanda told Greentech Media. “Our business remains strong despite COVID-19. Our investors are satisfied with our results, and we remain committed to growing this platform.”
SB Energy Global is a joint venture between Japan-based telecommunications and internet giant SoftBank Group Corp., Indian business conglomerate Bharti Enterprises, and Taiwanese design and manufacturing services provider Foxconn Technology Group. The Delhi-based developer broadened into the U.S. market last fall with the acquisition of 1.7 gigawatts of solar projects from Intersect Power.
SB Energy Global Holdings operates independently from SoftBank's Japanese renewable energy business. SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son previously sought to invest up to $200 billion in a massive solar program in Saudi Arabia, but those plans ultimately were shelved .
In January, The Economic Times of India reported that SoftBank was looking to sell its majority stake in the Indian renewable energy joint venture in an effort to increase liquidity, citing unnamed sources. But SB Energy swiftly denied the report as wholly untrue and reaffirmed its commitment to deploying 20 gigawatts of renewable energy in the country.
SoftBank and its $100 billion Vision Fund have been heavily criticized in recent months for making risky bets on technology startups such as Uber and WeWork. These bets brought SoftBank Corp’s net losses to an expected 900 billion yen ($8.5 billion) for the fiscal year ending March 31, while the Vision Fund itself, which is backed by Middle Eastern investors, took a loss of 1.8 trillion yen ($16.6 billion) in the fiscal year that just ended. The Vision Fund blamed a “deteriorating market environment” amid the coronavirus outbreak, although strains were already being felt prior to the pandemic.
Under mounting financial pressure, SoftBank's CEO announced plans in March to raise $41 billion from asset sales over the coming year to buy back shares and reduce debt in an effort to win back investor confidence.
Yet despite these disruptions, SB Energy's Nanda insisted that SoftBank has no plans to divest from the renewable energy sector. “Does SoftBank intend to exit solar or renewables or exit this platform?” he said in an interview. “The answer is simply no.”
SB Energy wins big at India auctions
Nanda pointed to SB Energy’s recent wins at two central government auctions in India as the strongest evidence pushing back against allegations that the firm is exiting solar.
The SoftBank subsidiary won the maximum of...