SoftBank's First U.S. Investment After Trump Talk Generates 3,000 Jobs

  • Japanese tech giant puts $1 billion into OneWeb satellite firm
  • Startup to hire engineering, manufacturing, support staff

SoftBank to Invest $50B in the U.S.

SoftBank Group Corp. Chief Executive Officer Masayoshi Son told President-elect Donald Trump this month he would create 50,000 jobs in the U.S. Money for the first 3,000 positions was announced on Monday.

Satellite startup OneWeb Ltd. said it raised $1.2 billion from SoftBank and existing investors, with the Japanese technology company providing $1 billion. The round will fund the development of small, low Earth orbiting satellites and pay for the construction of a facility in Florida that will churn out 15 of these devices a week, said OneWeb, based at Exploration Park, Florida, an area near Kennedy Space Center. The investment is expected to create almost 3,000 new engineering, manufacturing and support jobs in the U.S. over the next four years, the startup added in a statement.

Trump with Masayoshi Son in New York, on Dec. 6.

Photographer: Andrew Harnik/AP Photo

“Earlier this month I met with President-elect Trump and shared my commitment to investing and creating jobs in the U.S.,” SoftBank’s Son said in the statement. “This is the first step in that commitment.”

When they met on Dec. 6, Trump and Son exhibited their usual flair for the dramatic. The Japanese billionaire promised to invest, through SoftBank’s technology fund, $50 billion in the U.S. and create jobs. That helped to burnish Trump’s job-creating credentials, and may also smooth the way for a merger between SoftBank-controlled U.S. wireless carrier Sprint Corp. and T-Mobile US Inc. SoftBank shares fell less than 1 percent on Tuesday in early trading in Tokyo.

OneWeb is the latest creation of Greg Wyler, who has spent more than a decade trying to connect poorer, less-developed parts of the world to the internet. He hopes to launch a constellation of satellites that will extend the networks of mobile operators and internet service providers to serve new coverage areas at a lower cost.

SoftBank’s investment “accelerates our strategic growth plan,” Wyler said in the statement. “We look forward to working together as we execute on our mission to build a global knowledge infrastructure that provides affordable broadband to the over four billion people across the globe without internet access.”

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