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Friday, April 22, 2016

SoftBank investors gun for Nikesh Arora's exit

A group of investors in SoftBank Group Corp. has called on the board to investigate and possibly dismiss Nikesh Arora, the company’s second in command, in a sharply critical, 11-page letter that questioned his track record and qualifications as president and heir apparent to billionaire founder Masayoshi Son.

The request came in a letter to SoftBank’s board dated January 20 from the American law firm Boies Schiller & Flexner and signed by Matthew Schwartz, a partner at the elite New York firm, without identifying the shareholders or how much stock they own.

The critique of Arora, which hasn’t been made public, questions whether the executive has conflicts of interest due to his existing role as a senior adviser to the private equity firm Silver Lake. It also suggests he may have been involved in past wrongdoing and generally poor business decisions. A separate letter from one investor to the board of Sprint Corp., which SoftBank controls, asks for his removal as a director there for similar reasons. In addition to these allegations, the investors criticised Arora’s allegedly “poor investment performance and a series of questionable transactions” during his tenure. “Despite these issues, the SoftBank board saw fit to make Mr. Arora the third-highest paid executive in the world without any track record of accomplishment at the company,” wrote Schwartz.

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