SoftBank President Nikesh Arora to Step Down

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Nikesh Arora

The former Google executive, criticized by investors, was tipped to succeed founder and CEO Masayoshi Son and had last year taken a large stake in the internet, telecoms and investing giant.

SoftBank president Nikesh Arora will step down in July, with CEO Masayoshi Son insisting he now wants to continue in his role leading the company for another five to 10 years.

Son argued he can't keep former Google executive Arora waiting that long to succeed him at the helm of the Japanese technology giant, which owns telecom giant Sprint, among others. The Tuesday announcement comes a day after an internal SoftBank panel dismissed allegations against Arora by a group of disgruntled shareholders.

Arora was the third-highest-paid executive in the world last year, earning around $135 million between September 2014 and March 2015, and was tipped by Son to take over the reins at SoftBank. He took a $480 million personal stake in SoftBank late last year.

"Nikesh is a unique leader with unparalleled skills around strategy and execution. He should be CEO of a global business, and I had hoped to hand over the reins of SoftBank to him on my 60th birthday -- but I feel my work is not done," said Son. "I want to cement SoftBank 2.0, develop Sprint to its true potential and work on a few more crazy ideas. This will require me to be CEO for at least another five to 10 years -- this is not a time frame for me to keep Nikesh waiting for the top job."

A group of unidentified shareholders had written to SoftBank via a New York law firm demanding the resignation of Arora, who they claimed had conflicts of interest with his work at a private equity fund and had a history of poor investment decisions. 

A SoftBank spokesperson from the company's Tokyo headquarters told The Hollywood Reporter the two events were unconnected and that the timing was a coincidence. Arora will take on an as yet unspecified advisory role at SoftBank.

The news came after SoftBank announced Tuesday that it was selling its stake in mobile game-maker Supercell to China's Tencent, the latest in a series of disposals by the Japanese company, which is saddled with heavy debt.