- Tram Ho
Billionaire Tadashi Yanai – Photo: Getty Images.
Japan’s SoftBank Group has just said that Tadashi Yanai will withdraw from his position as an independent member of the board of directors after 18 years to focus on his own company. Yanai is the founder, CEO of Fast Retailing (the parent company of Uniqlo fashion brand) and also the richest billionaire in Japan, according to Rueters.
As a longtime partner of Masayoshi Son – the founder and CEO of SoftBank, Mr. Yanai is one of the three board members from outside of this group.
Mr. Yanai’s move took place in the context that SoftBank was facing many problems related to the failed listing of startup WeWork. Son said that he underestimated the quality of Adam Neumann, the co-founder of WeWork, and pledged to promote governance at this startup – where SoftBank has invested tens of billions of dollars.
However, experts remain skeptical and argue that not many people at SoftBank can criticize Son’s assessments and decisions.
“They have fairly low governance standards,” said Nicholas Benes, of the Japan Institute of Director Training, a non-profit organization specializing in corporate governance training. “If they do not set themselves a higher standard, it is difficult to ask for it in the companies they invest in.”
In November, when SoftBank reported the first quarterly loss after 14 years and faced criticism related to management issues, Son countered that Yanai was one of the board members who criticized him harshly about Investments in WeWork.
“Nearly every board member criticized me and I felt extremely tired,” Son said.
Mr. Yanai is known to be willing to speak out against Son’s decisions. Currently, his successor has not been decided.
SoftBank also lost one of its most outspoken independent directors, Shigenobu Nagamori, when he resigned two years ago. Nagamori is the founder and CEO of Nidec Corp.
The remaining independent directors on SoftBank’s board of directors include Masami Iijima, president of Mitsui & Co. and professor Yutaka Matsuo from the University of Tokyo, a renowned expert on artificial intelligence.
Both Yanai and Son have declared and then canceled their retirement plans. Among them, Mr. Yanai, now 70 years old, once said he would retire at the age of 65. He said he did not want either of his sons to take over as CEOs at Fast Retailing, but last year both were appointed to director positions in the company.
According to Japanese media, several potential names that can replace his position at Fast Retailing include Chief Financial Officer Takeshi Okazaki; Pan Ning, operations director of Uniqlo in China; and Maki Akaida, director of operations of Uniqlo in Japan.
Source : VnEconomy