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Nikesh Arora is out as SoftBank’s No. 2 and heir apparent to Masayoshi Son

Son says he now plans to remain atop the Japanese conglomerate for another five to 10 years.

Palo Alto Networks CEO Nikesh Arora Asa Mathat

Nikesh Arora is out as president at SoftBank, leaving CEO Masayoshi Son looking for a new successor.

Arora, Google’s former chief business officer, joined SoftBank in 2014 and was seen as SoftBank’s next CEO, but had come under fire from shareholders over potential conflicts of interest and what they saw as his unusually high pay.

SoftBank announced Tuesday that Arora was shifting to an advisory role at SoftBank, effective July 1.

“Nikesh and I have been partners in creating SoftBank 2.0,” Son said in a statement. “He has been able to help think through our vision, future growth plans and articulate the SoftBank strategy. He brought world class execution skills to SoftBank, as evidenced in our myriad of investments over the last year, as well as the complex monetization of our Alibaba stake, and most recently our successful sale of Supercell.”

An internal probe announced Monday that SoftBank found no wrongdoing on Arora’s part regarding the shareholders’ claims, but his departure is being announced just a day after the report was made public.

Arora is also one of the highest paid executives in the world, taking home over $70 million last year and as much as $135 million the year before, compensation that drew the ire of shareholders.

Son acknowledged he had hoped Arora would take over, but said he now plans to stay atop SoftBank for the foreseeable future.

“I had hoped to hand over the reins of SoftBank to him on my 60th birthday — but I feel my work is not done,” Son said. “I want to cement SoftBank 2.0, develop Sprint to its true potential and work on a few more crazy ideas. This will require me to be CEO for at least another five to ten years — this is not a time frame for me to keep Nikesh waiting for the top job.”

Arora took questions for two hours on Twitter, answering issues such as whether his departure would dampen SoftBank’s interest in India while reiterating the official word that Son wanted to remain CEO longer than Arora wanted to wait.

He also addressed the shareholder scrutiny he has faced at SoftBank.

After leaving Google, Arora recruited a batch of top sales and business veterans from the search engine. It will be interesting to see if they stay at SoftBank now that Arora is gone.

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