Akshay Naheta, 39, is the latest SoftBank senior executive to catch the eye of the Japanese group’s founder and mercurial technology billionaire, Masayoshi Son, following the rapid rise of Nikesh Arora and Rajeev Misra, who currently heads its famed Vision Fund.
The Mumbai-born hotshot executive’s ascent within the technology-to-telecoms conglomerate is likely to get a further boost as he spearheaded the just announced mega sale of SoftBank’s Arm Holdings to US chipmaker Nvidia for $40 billion, among the largest transactions executed in the semiconductor industry.
SoftBank had bought Arm for $32 billion four years ago. Naheta’s separate public market investment in Nvidia also saw the Vision Fund making an exit when it sold its entire stake in the Santa Clara-based firm earlier this year for more than $3 billion. Amid the hectic deal-making, the former Deutsche Bank trader was recently elevated to report directly to Son, moving internally from being a managing partner at the Vision Fund to his new role as senior vice president at SoftBank group in June.
This makes him among the youngest executives to have close access to the SoftBank chief.
A hedge fund manager who founded and ran London-based Knight Assets & Co before joining SoftBank in 2017, Naheta was involved in investments across companies like Nvidia, pharmaceutical firm Roivant Sciences and German online car trader Auto1.
A person familiar with the goings-on at the group, said Naheta was brought in to assist Son and others in the planned $43 billion asset sale process that SoftBank has embarked upon amid massive losses incurred by the group after debacles at WeWork and other Vision Fund portfolio companies.
Naheta has since been involved in the planned sale of shares of Chinese internet giant Alibaba as SoftBank offloaded $13.7 billion of its holding.
According to a Bloomberg report in May, Naheta, who relocated to Abu Dhabi from London, would help Son in managing the conglomerate’s investments and will “provide strategic advice to its global management team.”
SoftBank did not respond to ET’s request for an interaction with Naheta.
Having been around at SoftBank since 2017, Naheta’s investment strategy — which was largely concentrated around the public markets — has started diversifying. He was also reportedly involved in the fundraising of its Vision Fund-2, which has yet to be closed since most Limited Partners or sponsors have not shown interest in backing the technology-focussed fund.
Hakan Koç, founder of Berlin-based online cars trade platform Auto1, which is among the most valued European startups at $3.4 billion, said that Naheta was a strategic investor as the company’s former board member. “He has a structured view on businesses, and I am always surprised by the innovation he can bring to the group,” he said.
Another founder who has worked with Naheta said on condition of anonymity that Naheta “is a smart investor with knowledge spanning multiple domains and has been helpful in encouraging me to think big…”
Since taking on the role at SoftBank group, Naheta has transitioned out of his Vision Fund responsibilities and stepped down from the boards of portfolio companies.
Another founder who has worked with Naheta said, “He has constantly supported me in strategic decision making and also helped navigate the SoftBank universe which has grown to a large team over time…”
Naheta known for being a close ally of Misra, who also hired him at the Vision Fund, was also behind the 900-million-euro investment in the now insolvent and fraud-hit German payments company Wirecard.
He was also reportedly part of a $4 billion hedge fund-style vehicle being launched by Misra, the Financial Times reported in February. “The fund is set to be based in Abu Dhabi and would be managed by Naheta,” FT had reported at the time. Since then, it has been reported that Misra and Naheta are closely involved in the huge derivatives bets on select US tech stocks, leading to their massive rally.