Softbank board loses dissenting voice as Uniqlo founder leaves
Tadashi Yanai will leave the Board of Directors of SoftBank
Japan's SoftBank Group announced that Uniqlo founder and CEO Tadashi Yanai will step down as an independent board member after 18 years in that position. He intends to focus on his business. Longtime ally of Group founder and SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Sona, is one of three outside board members.
The resignation comes amid grappling with the aftermath of WeWork's failed IPO, co-founder Adam Neumann's underestimation of character and CEO's promise to strengthen corporate governance.
Experts are critical of SoftBank's leadership, saying the group has only a handful of truly independent voices that could question Son's judgment.
«They have low management standards», – said Nicholas Benes of the Board of Directors of the Japan Training Institute, a non-profit organization specializing in corporate governance training.
«If they do not demand higher standards for themselves, then it is pointless to wait for them from the companies in which they invest.», – he added.
Yanai, Japan's richest man. He is also known for periodically expressing his disagreement with some of Sona's decisions..
His successor has not yet been determined, a representative of SoftBank said..
Japan’s richest man and Uniqlo founder quits SoftBank board after 18 years
SoftBank has already lost one of its most outspoken votes on the board when another outside director Shigenobu Nagamori, founder and CEO of Nidec Corp, retired two years ago.
Other independent directors currently on the Board of SoftBank are the Chairman of the Board of Mitsui Trading House & Co Masami Iijima, and renowned expert on artificial intelligence professor at the University of Tokyo Yutaka Matsuo.
Both Yanai and Dream planned (but then changed their minds) to hand over the reins of their companies.
Yanai said he didn’t want either of his two sons to take over as CEO of Uniqlo, however they were both promoted to join the ranks of the company's directors last year..
Among the possible successors named by the media were the CFO Takeshi Okazaki and Pan Ning, the head of the Chinese operating company Uniqlo, and Maki Akayda, the head of the Japanese operating company Uniqlo..