SoftBank Group has not had a good year.
The firm’s Vision Fund lost billions on its disastrous bet on co-working company WeWork. SoftBank itself is under pressure from activist investor Elliot Management Corp. to improve its share value. And the conglomerate — which finished its fiscal year in March — just announced that it expects to record an annual operating loss for the first time in 15 years.
Despite all of this, investors and analysts in Japan still hold high regard for SoftBank’s executives and investor relations teams, according to Institutional Investor’s 2020 All-Japan Executive Team. Chief executive Masayoshi Son, CFO Yoshimitsu Goto, and global IR head Yoko Dochi all received top marks in this year’s survey, ranking as the best executive team in the broadcasting and telecommunications sector.
Other top-ranked C-suites include the executive team of Sony Corp., led by CEO Kenichiro Yoshida. Sony, which led the consumer electronics sector, has been a leader in artificial intelligence initiatives, including partnering with Japan’s giant retirement fund, the Government Pension Investment Fund, to incorporate AI into its investments.
[II Deep Dive: A Society in Flux? These CEOs Are Ready.]
In total, 490 companies were nominated in this year’s survey, which reflects the opinions of almost 350 investors, portfolio managers, and analysts from 189 firms managing Japanese equities.
Of the nominated companies, 61 scored highly enough to receive the designation of Most Honored Company. Just eight swept their sectors, earning first place in each of the four categories: Best CEO, Best CFO, Best IR Professional, and Best IR Program.
SoftBank and Sony were two such firms. Others included Fuji Oil Holdings — which led the beverages, food, and tobacco sector — and Nidec Corp., the top company in the electronic components division. Hitatchi led the industrial electronics sector, while Daikin Industries swept the engineering and machinery industry. Top scores were also awarded to Kao Corp. — ranking first in the household, cosmetics, and personal care sector — and ITOCHU Corp., which came first among trading companies.