Who is the Japanese billionaire who met with Donald Trump?

Masayoshi Son wants to invest $50 billion in American startups and help create 50,000 jobs.

Andrew Harnik/AP
President-elect Donald Trump and Softbank owner and chief executive officer Masayoshi Son speak to the press after meeting at Trump Tower in New York, on Dec. 6.

Dressed in a red shirt and tie with shades matching those of President-elect Donald Trump, Japanese billionaire businessman Masayoshi Son announced his plans to invest and create jobs in the United States Wednesday following a meeting with Mr. Trump.

“Ladies and gentlemen, this is Masa from SoftBank of Japan, and he’s just agreed to invest $50 billion in the United States and 50,000 jobs,” Trump told reporters at the lobby of Trump Tower in New York. He later Tweeted: “He would never do this had we (Trump) not won the election!”

Although the details are still fuzzy, Trump is claiming the announcement as a victory for his campaign mantra about keeping jobs in the US. He adds this to his claims that he convinced Carrier, an HVAC systems manufacturer, to keep jobs in the US by offering them incentives to stay. Critics note that taxpayers are now paying the salaries of the 7,000 jobs the deal kept in the US, and creates a perverse incentive system that rewards companies for threatening to outsource jobs.

For Mr. Son, the meeting with Trump represents a significant step forward for his designs on the American market. Known for his lofty goals – he has written a 300-year plan for SoftBank – and open attitude, Son has been one of Japan’s most aggressive overseas investors for decades. He also often goes to world leaders directly to discuss business deals, most recently meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and South Korean President Park Geun-hye, reported CNN Money.

Son owns Softbank, one of Japan’s biggest telecom providers, which has acquired a string of international businesses. His early successful investments include shares of Alibaba and Yahoo. In 2013, he forayed into the US through the purchase of Sprint, but his plans to buy T-Mobile were thwarted by federal anti-monopoly regulations – which Trump has promised to lift.

Son told reporters at the Trump Tower lobby that he would “like to celebrate [Trump's] presidential job” because Trump will advocate for deregulation, reported Bloomberg.

The $50 billion investment, sourced from a $100 billion investment fund Son set up with potential partners and Saudi Arabia's sovereign-wealth fund, is earmarked for US startups. But it is still unknown how the investment will create 50,000 jobs, given that startups generally don’t employ as many people as established businesses, and Sprint, currently going through financial troubles, has had to cut staff. 

Other corporations may come Trump’s way as executives embrace the president-elect’s platform of lower taxes and less regulation. AT&T's chief executive Randall Stephenson, for example, talked of higher economic growth under Trump, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Foxconn, Son’s business partner and supplier of Apple products, might also be eyeing a US expansion, "while the scope of the potential investment has not been determined," said the company in a statement published by Reuters.

This report contains material from Reuters and the Associated Press.

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