SoftBank Group Corp. said Thursday it will seek investment opportunities in the field of generative AI even as it posted an annual net loss for the second straight year in fiscal 2022, affected by sluggish global share prices that dented the value of its shareholdings.

"The time of AI has come," Chief Financial Officer Yoshimitsu Goto said at a press conference. "We have to be able to cope with both the offense and the defense," he said, suggesting the company will invest more aggressively despite the current challenging business environment.

Goto said the progress in the field of generative artificial intelligence has been remarkable in the past several months, citing the popularity of ChatGPT developed by U.S.-based OpenAI.

The Japanese investment and technology giant will consider investing in the area while also trying to tighten its belt to improve its financials, he said.

For the year ended March, the company posted a net loss of 970.14 billion yen ($7.2 billion) as stock prices in its investment portfolio fell, including such shares as Chinese technology firm SenseTime Group Inc.

But the loss shrank from the 1.71 trillion yen reported a year earlier as the values of some of the companies it invests in recovered. Sales for fiscal 2022 rose 5.6 percent to 6.57 trillion yen as its telecom subsidiary SoftBank Corp. fared well.

The group racked up 835.1 billion yen in investment losses in the reporting year, as losses of over 5 trillion yen from its Vision Fund operations were partly offset by gains from selling its stake in Chinese tech giant Alibaba Group Holdings Ltd.

SoftBank Group sold nearly all of its stake in Alibaba as it tries to improve its balance sheet and rebalance its shareholdings that were heavy with Chinese companies, it said.

It grappled with a falling trend in global stock markets following the war in Ukraine and higher borrowing costs due to major central banks raising interest rates to contain soaring inflation.

In the face of such a headwind, CEO Masayoshi Son, known for his aggressive investment in tech start-ups that resulted in a record net profit for a Japanese company in fiscal 2020, said last year he would "ramp up its defense" and radically cut back on investments.

Son has said he will instead focus on Arm Ltd., its British chip designer subsidiary that he plans to list in the United States.

Goto said the listing process "is going extremely smoothly" without elaborating. Son did not show up at Thursday's press conference.

Asked how excited Son is about the recent developments with generative AI, Goto said, "He is feeling a tremendous sense of elation."

"He is like, 'My time has finally come,'" Goto said.

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