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What a Vision! Loans banker gets curious

By Taipan
09 Jul 2020

When I was a banker, you only signed a non-disclosure agreement if you had serious interest in joining a deal. Not anymore.

When SoftBank’s maverick founder Masayoshi Son set up his $100bn Vision Fund back in 2017, the world of finance watched with interest and more than a little disbelief. There was plenty of talk about how the fund would reshape technology investing; others thought the fund was too big not to fail.

Three years later, some of the sheen has come off. The doubters have not exactly been proved right but even Son’s greatest admirers would admit the Vision Fund could do with a pair of spectacles. That all made the fund’s decision to turn to the syndicate loan market all the more intriguing for bankers.

A loans banker told me earlier this week that he had received an invitation letter from the Vision Fund for a corporate loan. The loan came with a non-disclosure agreement before the fund could reveal many details to bank lenders; nothing unusual there.

Unlike most other uninterested bankers, who would ignore or delete the letter, or perhaps send a polite response, this banker hastily signed the NDA and sent it back. He had no interest in joining the deal ─ he just wanted a glimpse under the covers.

That is unlikely to please executives at the Vision Fund, or even paymasters at the bank this chap works for. But it is in some ways a testament to the excitement Son, and particularly the Vision Fund, has managed to generate.

The banker told me his look at the financial report left him no more eager to join the deal than he had been before. But few other deals would force him to sign an NDA just out of curiosity. A small consolation?

By Taipan
09 Jul 2020