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Alok Sama is leaving active role in SoftBank

Top level churn continues in SoftBank. In the latest development, Alok Sama, President and Chief Financial Officer is now leaving active role as per a report published in Financial Times. Sama helped founder Masayoshi Son steer through the $32 billion acquisition of chip designer Arm Holdings.

He will continue as a senior adviser to SoftBank and represent the company on the boards of SoFi, the online lender, and SB Energy, its renewable energy business, adds the report citing anonymous sources informed on the matter.

The formal announcement would be made in the next few weeks. Sources quoted in the report indicate that this upheaval is a result of Sama’s fading status and functionality in the group.

Alok Sama, a former Morgan Stanley banker, joined SoftBank in 2014 as an adviser before becoming the CFO of the group’s international holdings a year later. He featured prominently in helping SoftBank founder Son secure his largest takeover, a deal for UK chip designer Arm Holdings in 2016.

Interestingly the deal was announced just days after Son parted ways with his heir apparent, former Google executive Nikesh Arora. Arora had suddenly resigned as the company’s president after a disagreement about succession planning. He was hailed as Son’s heir and led several investments in India including Housing, Snapdeal, and OYO.

Post Arora’s departure, Sama was then left as one of Son’s most important lieutenants.

But soon after the Arm Holdings deal, the strategy shifted with the launch of the $100 billion SoftBank Vision Fund, fuelled mainly with capital from the governments of Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi. Rajeev Misra, a former Deutsche Bank and UBS debt trader was named as Chief Executive of Vision fund.

Misra’s rise within SoftBank has been seen by some insiders as coming at the expense of Sama.

Last year, SoftBank took steps to clarify its leadership team by naming Misra, its chief operating Marcelo Claure and Katsunori Sago, a former Goldman Sachs banker, as executive vice-presidents of the company.

People close to SoftBank paint a picture of a dispersed, sharp-elbowed culture, where executives jostle for Son’s favour.

Sama was also at the heart of one of the most divisive investigations within the company. Last year, SoftBank launched an internal inquiry to determine whether a shareholder campaign against Arora and Sama that began in January 2016 was instigated by insider involvement. Due to the shareholder campaign, Sama was prevented from working on the Vision Fund.

The outcome of the investigation is yet to be released.

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