Japan’s Richest 2019: SoftBank’s Son Tumbles From Top Spot Amid Losses For Most Others

12-Apr-2019 Intellasia | Forbes | 6:00 AM Print This Post

It was a mixed year for Japan’s superrich. Despite a 5 percent uptick in the Nikkei index, 31 of the 50 list members have smaller fortunes than a year ago. Altogether the country’s 50 wealthiest are worth $178 billion, down from $186 billion a year ago.

Last year’s No. 1, Masayoshi Son, fell to second place despite gains in SoftBank stock that lifted his fortune by $2.1 billion to $24 billion. Son was outpaced by Tadashi Yanai, founder of Fast Retailing, parent of clothing chain Uniqlo, who moved back into the top spot for the first time since 2016. Yanai was the biggest gainer in dollar terms, adding $5.6 billion to his wealth since last year to $24.9 billion.

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Son has made headlines for the big bets that his $100 billion SoftBank Vision Fund has been making. The Vision Fund has raised $45 billion from Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, plus smaller amounts reportedly from Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala fund, Apple, Qualcomm and Oracle’s billionaire cofounder Larry Ellison, among others.

Another gainer this year was Takemitsu Takisaki, whose fortune rose $1 billion to $18.6 billion, making him the third richest on the list, up from No. 4 last year. His Tokyo-listed sensors firm, Keyence, has witnessed steady growth in China, where its sensors are used to monitor the performance of machines and robots in factories.

Nobutada Saji and family registered the biggest drop in net worth, falling $7.2 billion to an estimated $10.8 billion. Part of the decline resulted in new information clarifying that some of the Suntory stake previously attributed to the Saji family is owned by charitable entities and thus excluded from their net worth. The Saji fortune was further weighed down by weakness in global beer sales.

Four newcomers join the list. Takahisa Takahara debuts with a $5.2 billion fortune after he and his two siblings inherited the family stake in diaper firm Unicharm; his father Keiichiro, who founded the company, died at age 87 in October 2018. Takahisa has been running Unicharm as CEO since 2001. Other newcomers include Shintaro Yamada, whose online auction firm Mercari went public in June 2018; Masaaki Arai, founder of Tokyo-listed real estate firm Open House; and Toshio Motoya, founder of budget hotel chain APA Group.

Notable drop-offs include Yoshiko Shinohara, Japan’s first self-made female billionaire. Shares of Persol Holdings, the temporary staffing company she founded, lost more than a third of their value in the past year. A 50 percent plunge in the shares of robot maker Cyberdyne knocked founder Yoshiyuki Sankai from the ranks.

Reporting by James Simms with Angel Au-Yeung and Chloe Sorvino.


The list was compiled using information from the individuals, stock exchanges, analysts, company filings and other sources. Net worths were based on stock prices and exchange rates as of the close of markets on March 22, 2019. Private companies were valued by using financial ratios and other comparisons with similar publicly traded companies. Fortunes often include assets owned by other family members.



Category: Japan

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