Japan’s SoftBank Group Corp said on Friday that its chief operating officer, Marcelo Claure, was leaving the tech investor, in the latest blow after a string of high-profile departures.
The exit comes after a row with founder and chief executive Masayoshi Son over his salary, said a person familiar with the matter, requesting anonymity as the matter is confidential.
Claure’s deputy, Michel Combes – a former French telecommunications executive – has been named managing director of SoftBank Group International, SoftBank said.
Claure, who was already one of the tech giant’s highest-paid executives after earning a salary of $17 million in 2020, has been in talks to leave SoftBank for several months and could soon launch his own investment company. , earlier media said. .
While Son hasn’t been scared off by his willingness to pay to attract foreign talent, he runs a publicly traded Japanese company in a country where investors frown on large payouts to senior executives.
Claure, who spent several years at SoftBank cleaning up messy investments such as wireless carrier Sprint and office-sharing company WeWork, expected to receive billions of dollars in compensation over the years, while Son sought to pay him a much smaller sum. , the source said.
Son had discussed a potential structure that could have allowed Claure to be paid significantly more than his existing salary package, but he never committed to it in writing, resulting in a clash with Claure that led to his decision to resign imminently, the person added.
SoftBank and Claure did not respond to requests for comment on this.
The departure of Claure, one of SoftBank’s top decision makers along with Rajeev Misra, head of the Vision Fund, underscores uncertainty over who might succeed 64-year-old Son.
Tokyo is listed with a large retail investor base and a stake in telco SoftBank Corp, but is primarily focused on technology investing through its Vision Fund unit. With offices in London and California, SoftBank revolves around Son’s personality.
Nikesh Arora, a former senior Google executive, joined SoftBank in 2014 to eventually succeed Son, but left in 2016 after Son decided to continue leading SoftBank.
“The impact on SoftBank’s overall outlook is limited given that Claure largely works outside of Vision Fund,” said analyst Kirk Boodry of Redex Holdings.
“They’ll miss his expertise on Latam investments and as a US-based fixer, but the latter is hard to quantify,” Boodry said.
Although framed by Son’s burgeoning rhetoric about the group’s mission to create “happiness for everyone”, SoftBank has become known for its landslide deals and workplace politics as its investors scramble to position themselves.
Claure’s exit adds to a series of high-profile departures from SoftBank over the past few years, including Deep Nishar and Jeff Housenbold of the Vision Fund, the latter leaving for compensation reasons.
Group chief strategy officer Katsunori Sago, who was also seen as a possible successor, left last year.
Bolivian-born billionaire Claure rose through the ranks of SoftBank after the Japanese conglomerate bought his company Brightstar in 2014, becoming the boss of Sprint which eventually merged with T-Mobile US Inc.
Claure also launched SoftBank’s first $5 billion Latin American fund in 2019, at a time when no deep-pocketed investors had written big checks for startups in the region.
He leads the Bolivian football team Club Bolivar and is executive chairman of WeWork.