Softbank, the Japanese technology and telecommunications company that owns America’s fourth-largest carrier, Sprint, has seen some amount of turmoil in recent times, with a section of investors getting increasingly agitated with the company’s President, Mr. Nikesh Arora. The former Google executive, who was personally appointed to his post by the company’s founder and CEO, Mr. Masayoshi Son back in 2014, has now resigned from his job, with increasingly-vocal activist investors not just raising questions regarding his competence, but also alleging a conflict of interest because of his relaions with a private equity firm. He was widely believed to be the next-in-line to take over from Mr. Son as the CEO of the company.
Mr. Arora hasn't been the most popular with sections of Softbank shareholders after many of his investments in India and the U.S. failed to yield the sort of results they would have expected. While one of Softbank’s most controversial investments in the U.S. was the buyout of Sprint, the deal happened under Mr. Son’s watch back in 2013, much before Mr. Arora even came into the picture. However, the outgoing Softbank President has been on the board of the struggling U.S. carrier for a while now, but things have only gone from bad to worse during that time with the company ceding ground to the smaller, but more agile T-Mobile, who took over from the beleaguered telecommunications company as the third-largest wireless carrier in the U.S. last year.
While Mr. Arora’s tenure as the President of Softback was fairly controversial, the man at the center of the storm has categorically denied all allegations of conflicts of interest. The company had even formed a special committee to investigate those allegations, and it was just on Monday that the committee, comprising of independent members of SoftBank’s board of directors, had officially given the outgoing president a clean chit, absolving Mr. Arora from all charges of impropriety. While most media outlets are now attributing Mr. Arora’s resignation to the ongoing controversy, Mr. Son has released a statement denying that it had anything to do with Mr. Arora’s decision. Instead, he said, his own recent decision to stay on as the CEO of the company for “at least another five to ten years” was what prompted Mr. Arora to put in his papers.