SoftBank president and chief operating officer Nikesh Arora has decided to step down from the positions he held at the company, the Wall Street Journal reported. Just two years into his tenure and touted for the company top post, Arora's exit comes as a surprise.
One of the world's top paid executive, Arora's decision to resign came a day after he was absolved of conflict of interest accusations by a group of investors. An in house special committee had said the claims were "without merit."
Arora's role as SoftBank's overseas operation head had seen investments of $4 billion in internet-based companies across continents, according to the WSJ report. It noted that some of his investments and him being an adviser at a private equity firm were at conflict. Another group of investors had called to question the executive's high remuneration -- $135 million in 2014 and another $73 million in 2015.
Masayoshi Son, founder chairman and CEO of SoftBank, said Arora's decision to leave had nothing to do with the allegation. When the allegation surfaced, the Hindustan Times reported Son as saying that he had "complete trust" and "one thousand percent confidence" in his chosen successor.
However, on Tuesday, 58-year-old Son said: "I was thinking of handing over my job as CEO when I turn 60, but thought maybe I'm still a bit too young, and still have energy to continue."
Arora, who is weighing his next move, said he will continue to act as an adviser to SoftBank.
The WSJ reported that SoftBank in March had announced it would separate its Japanese telecom business (Japan's third biggest telecom carrier) from its overseas operations. Telecom business was profitable but slow growing, while overseas internet investments were fast-paced but riskier, said the company.
Arora's exit from the crucial overseas business, the company said, has found immediate replacements in some of his handpicked colleagues.
Weighed by $80 billion in debt, SoftBank in the recent weeks is selling some of its strategic investments in China's Alibaba, Japan's GungHo, Finnish Supercell to ease its balance sheet. The company's India investments include Oyo Hotels, Housing.com, Snapdeal, Ola, Hike and Grofers, among others.