Fortunes Fall for Two of Japan’s Richest, Son and Yanai

Softbank Founder Has 300-Year Plan in Pursuit of Sprint Nextel
In his 300-year plan, Masayoshi Son, 55, laid out a Darwinian comparison of business to living species and forecast that 99.98 percent of companies would cease to exist in their current form over the next 30 years. He vowed Tokyo-based Softbank would. Photographer: Toshiyuki Aizawa/Bloomberg

Japan’s richest man, Tadashi Yanai, and the nation’s second wealthiest, Masayoshi Son, lost a combined $2.4 billion in net worth today as shares in the companies they founded plunged.

Yanai, the chairman of Fast Retailing Co., lost $1.1 billion to $10.3 billion, as shares in Asia’s biggest clothing retailer closed down 9.9 percent in Tokyo. Softbank Corp. President Son’s net worth slid $1.3 billion to $7.7 billion after Japan’s third-largest mobile Internet company said it’s in talks to acquire a substantial stake in Sprint Nextel Corp. Softbank stock dived 16.8 percent.

The fortunes of both men are driven by their public holdings. Yanai had an estimated net worth of $11.4 billion as of 5:30 P.M New York time yesterday, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. He and his family control about 45.8 percent of Fast Retailing, and those holdings account for 96 percent of his wealth. Son’s fortune, of which 92 percent comes from equity in Softbank, was valued at $9.1 billion yesterday. He owns 20.9 percent in the company. Yanai is also a Softbank board member and holds 120,000 shares in Son’s company.

Fast Retailing shares tumbled the most in more than a year after the company forecast annual profit that was lower than analysts’ estimates. The seller of Uniqlo brand casual wear said its stores in China, South Korea, the U.K. and the U.S. missed revenue targets.

Softbank Drops

Softbank plummeted -- the biggest decline since March 2000 -- amid concern that turning around Sprint Nextel would be too costly. Softbank is seeking majority control of the U.S. carrier, two people familiar with the matter said.

“Investors tend to worry more about the financial burdens initially when it comes to any major purchases, rather than hopes for growth,” said Takashi Oba, a senior strategist at Okasan Securities Co.

The Bloomberg Billionaires Index takes measure of the world’s wealthiest people based on market and economic changes and Bloomberg News reporting. Each net worth figure is updated every business day at 5:30 p.m. in New York. The valuations are listed in U.S. dollars. The collective wealth of the index is $1.9 trillion.

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