Japanese Investor Takes Cautious Approach - InformationWeek

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Japanese Investor Takes Cautious Approach

U.S. companies under the umbrella of Softbank Corp. must put their European expansion plans on hold following the Japanese Internet and technology investor's decision to freeze investments by European incubator @Viso, a joint venture with French entertainment company Vivendi Universal.

Softbank said earlier this month that it will close @Viso offices in Spain and the Netherlands and that its plans to open a Milan office have been put on hold. Softbank also said that it has closed London-based EVentures, set up last year with $450 million in a partnership with Rupert Murdoch's News Corp.

"The strategy on which EVentures was focused assumed vigorous expansion on the part of portfolio companies and depended on receptive local public markets," says a spokeswoman at Softbank International Ventures, who added that the investor will now focus on early-stage companies in Europe. Its largest fund in Europe is Softbank Europe Ventures, a $500 million fund with offices in London, Paris, and Munich.

"We still believe there is opportunity overseas, but in the current climate where capital is more scarce, companies must have a stronger business case -- customers --before entering," says Scott Russell, principal managing director at Softbank Venture Capital in Mountain View, Calif.

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