Softbank Considering IPO For Wireless Business

Luke Walker January 15, 2018
Softbank Considering IPO For Wireless Business

SoftBank Group Corp. said on Monday it was considering listing its Japanese wireless business, seeking to raise a reported $18 billion in a move that would accelerate the conglomerate’s transformation into one of the world’s biggest tech investors.

The Japanese company is in discussions over a spin-off Tokyo listing of its domestic telecoms business as billionaire founder Masayoshi Son seeks to boost the technology group’s investment clout.

A spin-off - potentially the biggest IPO by a Japanese company in nearly two decades - would also give the unit more autonomy as well as help investors with valuing the business and its parent.

The parent will sell some 30 percent of SoftBank. It plans to apply to the Tokyo Stock Exchange for the IPO as early as spring, which falls between March and May, and aims to debut the shares in Tokyo and elsewhere, possibly London, around autumn.

SoftBank said in a statement that a listing of the business was one option for its capital strategy, but that no such decision had been made.

The listing would aim to give the mobile-phone unit more autonomy in a group that has become more of an international investment company in recent years, the newspaper said. SoftBank would use the proceeds to invest in growth, such as buying into foreign information-technology companies, the Nikkei said.

SoftBank has been aggressively investing in tech companies worldwide, notably through its $98 billion London-based Vision Fund, saying last month that a group it leads will buy a large number of shares of Uber Technologies in a deal that values the ride-services firm at $48 billion.

SoftBank’s market value currently stands at around $92 billion. By contrast, its near 30 percent stake in Alibaba is worth around $140 billion.

Large companies seeking to list in Tokyo are required to float at least 35 percent of their shares, although these rules can be eased when the company has also listed overseas.

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Luke Walker


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