At a cool US$100 billion, SoftBank's Vision Fund is the biggest technology investment fund in history with investments that range from US$300 million in a dog-walking app called Wag to a reported US$4.4 billion in office space company WeWork.
Now the Japanese firm is entering the mining sphere for the first time, buying up to 9.9 per cent of Canada's Nemaska Lithium and investing up to US$78m through a private placement as part of the agreement.
Nemaska's shares trading in Toronto shot up 15 per cent on Friday lifting the Quebec City-based company's market value to US$412m.
SoftBank will have the right to nominate a member on Nemaska’s board and will also have the option to buy up to 20 per cent of the miner’s output of the battery raw material over the long term, the company said in a statement.
Nemaska, which has also received funding from the Quebec and Canadian governments, is building the Whabouchi hard rock lithium mine in the James Bay region and Shawinigan processing plant north of Montreal in Quebec for a capital outlay of roughly US$620m.
SoftBank's CEO, Masayoshi Son, who has secured investments for his fund from Saudi Arabia and Apple, among others, was effusive about the deal:
“We are extremely pleased to be further accelerating the Mobile Revolution, an era of IoT (Internet of Things) and electric vehicles enabled by the fusion of technology and energy storage.”
Reuters separately reports on Friday that Nemaska is in talks with private equity firm Orion Mine Finance about a streaming deal – an upfront investment in exchange for a share of future production, usually at a steep discount.
Nemaska said last week, it was in the final stages of negotiating a US$150 million streaming transaction and up to US$350 million in debt financing. New York-based Orion earlier this year closed a US$2.1 billion mining investment fund, the second largest private equity fund of its kind in history and the biggest in five years for the sector. — GB