SoftBank claims $5B stake in Roche amid grand plans to invest in biotech — reports
SoftBank has made a somewhat surprising choice in its bid to pour billions into biotech and healthcare.
The Japanese behemoth has quietly acquired a $5 billion stake in Roche, making it one of the Swiss pharma giant’s largest investors, Bloomberg reported. The Financial Times later confirmed the news.
The move marks a significant departure from SoftBank’s previous strategy of channeling biotech investments through its Vision Fund into early-stage startups such as Vir, Sana, XtalPi, Umoja and Exscientia. It also placed a sizable bet on Roivant back in 2017, leading a $1.1 billion round, long before Vivek Ramaswamy and his successor, Matt Gline, landed a SPAC merger at a valuation of $7 billion.
But that deal still pales in comparison to the reported Roche investment, which was reportedly done through SB Northstar — the unit tasked with seeking out public companies.
Launched in 2020, SB Northstar was conceived as a sturdy pillar of SoftBank’s asset management efforts and had sparked controversy for its trades in derivatives. SoftBank founder (and billionaire investor) Masayoshi Son personally owns a one-third stake.
A big driving factor behind the wager, according to Bloomberg’s sources, is SoftBank’s belief that Roche subsidiary Genentech — which has hired computational biology guru Aviv Regev to spearhead R&D — is highly undervalued. Through a series of recent acquisitions, including that of Flatiron Health and Foundation Medicine, Roche has also bolstered its infrastructure for pursuing precision medicine as it can now leverage a combination of data, diagnostics and analytics to develop new cancer drugs.