Business World

Marcelo Claure: Japan’s SoftBank Group COO quits after fallout with founder of pay

Japan’s SoftBank Group on Friday said its chief operating officer, Marcelo Claure, is leaving the technology investor, in the latest blow after a string of high-profile departures.

The exit comes after a fallout with founder and Chief Executive Masayoshi Son over his pay, reports said.

Claure’s deputy, Michel Combes has been appointed chief executive of SoftBank Group International, SoftBank said.

Claure, who was already one of the highest-paid executives at the tech giant after earning a pay package of $17 million in 2020, has been in talks to leave SoftBank for several months and may soon launch his own investment firm, earlier media reports indicated.

While Son has been unabashed about his willingness to pay to attract foreign talent, he heads a publicly listed Japanese company in a country where large payouts to top management are frowned upon by investors.

Claure, who has spent several years inside SoftBank cleaning up messy investments such as wireless carrier Sprint and office-sharing company WeWork, had expected to be paid billions of dollars in compensation over the years, while Son was looking to pay him a much smaller sum, the person said.

Son had discussed a potential structure that could have allowed Claure to be paid much more than his existing pay 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 said.

The departure of Claure, one of the SoftBank’s top decision makers along with Vision Fund head Rajeev Misra, underscores the uncertainty over who might succeed the 64-year-old Son.

With offices in London and California, SoftBank focuses on tech investing through its Vision Fund unit and revolves around the personality of Son.

Nikesh Arora, a former top executive at Google, joined SoftBank in 2014 to eventually succeed Son but left in 2016 after Son decided to continue running SoftBank.

Claure’s exit adds to a string of top-level departures from SoftBank over the past few years including Deep Nishar and Jeff Housenbold from the Vision Fund, with the latter leaving for compensation reasons.

The group’s chief strategy officer, Katsunori Sago, who was also seen as a possible successor, left last year.