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Is Softbank CEO the buyer of $117.5-million Silicon Valley estate?

January 29, 2013|By Jessica Guynn
  • An estate in the Northern California community of Woodside has sold for $117.5 million.
An estate in the Northern California community of Woodside has sold for… (Google Maps )

SAN FRANCISCO -- Tongues are wagging that SoftBank's billionaire founder, Masayoshi Son, may be the buyer of a $117.5-million estate in Woodside.

No one is willing to go on the record -- everyone involved signed non-disclosure agreements. But one real estate source who requested anonymity because he didn't want to jeopardize future business relations said Son bought the exclusive property in the woodsy and very wealthy heart of Silicon Valley.

Son is one of the richest men in Japan. He owns nearly 30% of Softbank and serves as its chief executive.

Softbank has significant business dealings in the United States. It holds large stakes in Yahoo Japan and China's Alibaba Group. In October, Softbank announced a $20-billion deal to buy a majority stake in Sprint Nextel, the wireless carrier that trails AT&T and Verizon.

Son also has strong ties to the Bay Area. He moved from Japan to California when he was 16 and finished high school while staying with family and friends in South San Francisco. Son studied at UC Berkeley, where he got a first-hand look at technological innovation in the Bay Area. He returned to Japan and later started Softbank.

Representatives of Softbank could not be reached for comment.

Real estate agents in Silicon Valley say the buyer of the Woodside estate went to great lengths to keep the transaction hush hush. Son is known for protecting his privacy with Steve Jobs-worthy zeal.

The blockbuster price has been the talk of the town in Woodside, which endured hovering helicopters after the news of the sale broke last week.

It's one of the highest-priced residential sales ever in the U.S., topping the $100-million sale of a Los Altos Hills estate to Russian investor Yuri Milner in 2011. The neoclassical-style house was built in 2005 and was designed by architect Allan Greenberg. It sits on nearly 9 acres.

The seller was Tully Friedman, chief executive of Friedman, Fleischer and Lowe, a San Francisco private equity firm. The property was purchased in the name of SV Projects LLC.

SV Projects LLC has the same address as law firm Morrison-Foerster’s Los Angeles office. Morrison & Foerster is representing Softbank in its acquisition of Sprint.

-- Times staff writers Lauren Beale and Chris O'Brien contributed to this report.

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Estate in Woodside, a Silicon Valley haven, sells for $117.5 million

Follow me on Twitter @jguynn

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