TOKYO (Reuters) – SoftBank Corp, Japan’s third-largest telco, said on Tuesday Chief Technology Officer Junichi Miyakawa would become its chief executive officer, effective April 1.
The change at the top of one of SoftBank Group Corp’s largest assets comes after two years of deliberation, with the telco emphasising the need to “pass on the strengths of its current management system to future generations.”
The rotation is likely to lead to speculation over SoftBank Group CEO Masayoshi Son’s own succession plans. The 63-year-old billionaire abandoned a previous plan to hand over the reins and went on to launch the $100 billion Vision Fund.
The son of a Buddhist priest, 55-year-old Miyakawa is a technical whizz driving projects including the wireless carrier’s 5G build-out. He replaces 71-year-old Ken Miyauchi, a key lieutenant of Son, who took up the post in 2015.
Miyauchi will take the post of board chairman from founder Son, who will remain on the board. A household name in Japan, Son joins business leaders such as former Apple CEO Steve Jobs in being the face of the company he runs.
During Miyauchi’s tenure, the telco had a bumper IPO in December 2018 to feed cash to SoftBank Group as it shifted its focus to investing in tech companies. Son has since further reduced the group’s stake after a series of high-profile stumbles.
Miyakawa takes the helm as the industry faces unprecedented political pressure to cut fees, potentially eating into fat margins in its core business.
Looking to grow sales beyond selling mobile and broadband subscriptions, SoftBank is integrating a hodgepodge of companies including online fashion retailer Zozo and message app operator Line Corp into internet business Z Holdings.
Known for blue sky thinking including flirting with the idea of making cars, Miyakawa’s pet projects include an attempt to deliver broadband via drones. Alphabet Inc said last week it was abandoning its own balloon-based attempt.
(Reporting by Sam Nussey; Editing by Tom Hogue, Shri Navaratnam and Subhranshu Sahu)