SoftBank Group, the Japanese investment management firm, has shed its shares of SenseTime for the third time in the past ten months, as the group tries to recover from losses. SenseTime, who counts SoftBank as its second-largest shareholder, is a leading Chinese AI company often referred to as one of the “AI four dragons” in China.
On March 2, SoftBank sold 9.79 million shares of SenseTime, after selling 12.9 million shares in May last year and 50 million shares in February this year. The Group bagged a total of USD 24.1 million through the three share reductions, and it currently 15.9% of the AI firm, down from 18% last year.
To combat losses after its tech investments tumble, SoftBank has been making share reductions and job cuts. It sold its entire shareholding in ride-sharing service provider Uber in August last year, and Alibaba shares in June last year.
SenseTime, the AI company known for its image recognition technology, once had [a valuation of $4.5 billion] and was the world’s most valuable AI startup. In 2021, SoftBank has made efforts to help SenseTime expand in Japan. According to Nikkei Asia, SenseTime deployed facial recognition services as a payment method in several Wendy’s in Japan, through a license held by Softbank’s mobile unit. In addition, SoftBank subsidiary Japan Computer Vision (JCV) has also helped SenseTime to deploy its biometric technology at public places for pandemic control and monitoring systems.
However, as US sanctions hit a slew of Chinese AI companies including SenseTime, shares of the company has plummeted about 60% in the past year. The stock tank makes SenseTime one of the worst performing investments of SoftBank.