Ex-Deutsche Bank executive Colin Fan to leave SoftBank Vision Fund

Colin Fan, a former senior executive at Deutsche Bank, is stepping down from his role as managing partner at SoftBank’s Vision Fund, marking the latest shake-up at the fund’s tumultuous US operations. 

Mr Fan, who joined the Vision Fund in 2017, is moving to an advisory role within the unit that manages the investment arm of the Japanese group, according to people with direct knowledge of the matter. 

A trader who rose to co-head investment banking at Deutsche Bank before his exit in 2015, Mr Fan played a leading role in the Vision Fund’s investment in Greensill Capital, a controversial UK-based firm that specialises in supply-chain finance. Other investments he led in the robot pizza delivery business Zume and car leasing start-up Fair have soured.

One person said Mr Fan will continue to work closely with Rajeev Misra, who runs the Vision Fund and filled its ranks with a number of his former Deutsche Bank colleagues.

Munish Varma, another Deutsche Bank alum, will relocate from London to Silicon Valley to assume some of Mr Fan’s responsibilities as managing partner. 

Mr Fan’s departure comes just weeks after SoftBank confirmed that Jeffrey Housenbold, one of the fund’s top investors in the US, plans to leave later this year. Mr Housenbold oversaw some of the fund’s largest bets, including in the meal delivery company DoorDash, whose valuation has soared to more than $60bn following a public listing last month.

Michael Ronen, another managing partner at the Vision Fund in the US, left last year after he said he had expressed concerns about “issues” at the fund. 

The Vision Fund has been a source of tumult within SoftBank, undergoing multiple reorganisations since chief executive Masayoshi Son formed the group to place big bets on artificial intelligence and other emerging technologies.

Last year, the investment arm of SoftBank, which manages the Vision Fund, laid off about 15 per cent of its 500 global staff.

The Japanese group’s first $100bn Vision Fund has recovered recently after experiencing early struggles from a series of troubled investments, such as the property group WeWork. SoftBank said it had booked a cumulative gain of $9.6bn on the fund’s investments at the end of the third quarter. 

However, the negative publicity associated with some of its bad bets including WeWork and dog walking app Wag has hindered Mr Son’s plans to raise external capital for subsequent funds. SoftBank has launched a second Vision Fund, but it is currently only spending money provided by the company itself.

SoftBank declined to comment. Bloomberg first reported on Mr Fan’s new role.

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