Marcelo Claure, one of SoftBank’s highest paid executives who led a turnaround at WeWork, has left the Japanese technology conglomerate following an altercation with founder Masayoshi Son.
SoftBank said in a statement on Friday that there was a mutual agreement to “separate over a successful nine-year partnership”, but gave no explanation for the move.
Claure’s exit as chief operating officer and possible successor to Son came after months of frosty salary negotiations, according to people closing the situation.
“We are not commenting on the cause [for Claure leaving]. We do not disclose the content of the agreement, ”said a spokesman for the company, adding that SoftBank will not comment on Son and Claure’s relationship.
Three people with direct knowledge of the case said that the Bolivian billionaire who had headed SoftBank’s investment fund for 5 billion. USD in Latin America, left after a dispute over his salary and the group’s strategic direction. People said Claure’s exit deal was expected to be worth “hundreds of millions of dollars”.
A person close to the company said that before his departure, Claure’s importance at SoftBank had diminished significantly, with his portfolio of companies shrinking and his influence diminishing.
“It’s an environment where what counts at that level is your relationship with Son, and once it broke down, the role of COO was more in the name,” said the person, who added that Claure’s claim for a time i.a. a “10-digit” sum.
A spokesman for Claure declined to comment.
His departure will intensify control of SoftBank’s declining stock price, and what some investors have said was a leadership crisis under development under its powerful founder, Son.
Shares in SoftBank have fallen more than 50 percent since their peak in March last year, and have fallen sharply in recent days as technology-focused stocks have been sold globally.
The company’s stock rose about 2.2 percent in Tokyo trading on Friday, in line with today’s rise of 1.9 percent for the broader Topix, which follows the Japanese market.
French telecom director Michel Combes will take over Claure’s duties of overseeing SoftBank’s Latin American funds, its Opportunity Fund and several non-Japanese portfolio companies.
Claure was recruited to SoftBank through the acquisition of its telecom start-up Brightstar and quickly worked its way into Son’s inner circle, where she first served as CEO of the US mobile group Sprint and later orchestrated the rescue and revival of the loss-making real estate group WeWork.
During his tenure, Claure repeatedly clashed with other SoftBank executives, including the head of its private investment division, Rajeev Misra, a former Deutsche Bank trader.
People close to senior SoftBank management said another source of friction had been Claure’s efforts to increase the company’s exposure to cryptocurrencies.
Claure was one of three leaders along with Misra who were considered possible successors to Son. The other, former Goldman Sachs banker Katsunori Sago, resigned as strategy director last year after less than three years. Prior to Sago’s exit, the company’s chief compliance officer, chief legal officer and chief communications officer went.