Top SoftBank exec quits after reported clash over compensation

Japanese investment giant SoftBank Group said Friday its chief operating officer Marcelo Claure is leaving the company, following reports that his demands for as much as $1 billion in compensation had fuelled an internal clash.

The group’s founder Masayoshi Son said in a statement that US-Bolivian businessman Claure, 51, “made many contributions to SoftBank” during his nine years at the firm.

“We thank him for his dedication and wish him continued success in his future endeavours,” said Son, Japan’s richest person according to Forbes who has transformed the telecoms group into a tech investment behemoth.

The statement came after Bloomberg News reported that Claure has clashed with Son in recent months as he pressed for compensation of $1 billion after making $16 million in the last fiscal year.

Claure had argued he deserved more money and authority after making key contributions to the company, including the turnaround and sale of US telecom unit Sprint and the listing of troubled start-up WeWork, Bloomberg said.

Michel Combes will take over Claure’s responsibility for SoftBank Group International and oversee its operating and investment portfolio, the company said.

In the same news release, Claure said he would “forever be grateful for my experience at SoftBank”.

“I am particularly grateful to Masayoshi Son, who gave me the opportunity to thrive at SoftBank and served as a mentor and friend during my tenure,” he added.

A SoftBank Group spokesman told AFP that Claure would be replaced by another SoftBank representative on the board of office-sharing start-up WeWork.

In 2016, Son’s then right-hand man Nikesh Arora quit the company just two years after being plucked from a high-profile job at Google, with SoftBank citing a “difference of expected timelines” for succession.

Later, Son admitted his desire to hang on to power a little longer had pushed away the former US tech executive seen as his heir apparent.

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