Son to Pass Uniqlo’s Yanai as Japan’s Richest: Chart of the Day

SoftBank Corp. founder Masayoshi Son will surpass Uniqlo’s Tadashi Yanai as Japan’s richest man within a year, transforming a wealth shortfall of about $2.4 billion into a $3.4 billion lead, share-price forecasts indicate.

The CHART OF THE DAY tracks Son’s $16.7 billion net wealth against Fast Retailing Co. founder Yanai’s $19.1 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. The gap got as small as $10 million on March 12. SoftBank shares will rally about 26 percent within 12 months while those of Asia’s largest clothing retailer will drop 7.5 percent, based on analyst forecast averages shown in the lower panels. Each man has at least 95 percent of their assets in the companies, the data show.

Son’s fortune is poised to grow by another $4.4 billion to about $21.1 billion, assuming his stock rises as predicted. A 37 percent stake in Chinese e-commerce operator Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. is an example of the “fantastic job” he’s done identifying investments, said Amir Anvarzadeh, a manager of Japanese equity sales in Singapore at BGC Partners Inc.

“I’m not born as a rich kid, I’m not born in the urban cities, I’m born in a small rural village,” Son told a teleconference on March 26. “Any kids born rich or poor should have the equal opportunity, equal dream to succeed.”

Son, 56, founded SoftBank in Tokyo in 1981 as a wholesaler of packaged computer software. It evolved through acquisitions including the Japanese unit of Vodafone Group Plc, U.S. phone operator Sprint Corp., and Alibaba, which is planning an initial public offering that could value the Chinese company at about $200 billion. SoftBank’s consensus rating was 4.5 out of 5.0, based on 15 analyst recommendations compiled by Bloomberg through April 5.

Fast Retailing was rated 3.1 out of 5.0. The company is in early talks to acquire Virginia-based J. Crew Group Inc. It is considering a share listing in New York. Yanai, who took over his father’s tailor shop, was quoted by Kyodo News as saying that he wants his two sons to assume roles similar to chairman or vice chairman in the future. The 65-year-old’s wealth will shrink by $1.4 billion, based on the 12-month share-price forecast for Fast Retailing compiles by Bloomberg.

Hiroe Kodera, a spokeswoman for Softbank, and Keiji Furukawa, a spokesman for Fast Retailing, declined to comment. The estimates don’t include dividends or other assets.