Business / Corporate

SoftBank Group plans to raise ¥2 trillion through IPO for telecom unit

Kyodo, Bloomberg

SoftBank Group Corp. is planning to raise ¥2 trillion ($18 billion) by listing shares in its telecom carrier unit on the Tokyo Stock Exchange by the end of this year, company officials said Monday.

The parent company is expected to retain roughly 70 percent of the SoftBank Corp. shares after the planned initial public offering on the TSE’s first section, the officials said, adding that the subsidiary may also go public in London and other overseas markets simultaneously.

SoftBank Group is considering spending funds raised from the IPO on making new investments and paying back debt.

The mobile business has an enterprise value of about $71 billion, according to Chris Lane, an analyst at Sanford Bernstein. Smithers has a similar valuation.

The final amount will depend on how many liabilities are attached to it before the listing, Lane said. The SoftBank group had ¥12.1 trillion of net debt as of September.

SoftBank’s domestic wireless operations generated ¥913 billion in revenue in the six months ended Sept. 30. Sales fell 4.7 percent from a year ago because of upfront investments and discounts designed to lure users. The company, which also offers broadband services, had 32.8 million mobile subscribers.

Over three decades, SoftBank founder Masayoshi Son used borrowed money to transform the software wholesaler he founded in 1981 into a phone company spanning two continents.

In Japan, he built a challenger to larger carriers and was first to bring Apple Inc.’s iPhone to the country. He bought Sprint Corp. to take on the top players in the U.S., Verizon Communications Inc. and AT&T Inc.

SoftBank veteran executive Ken Miyauchi has run the mobile business since 2015, and took charge of all domestic operations the following year as Son increasingly devoted more of his time to overseas bets.

The 60-year-old billionaire made about 100 investments last year — from ride-sharing, co-working and robotics to agriculture, cancer detection and autonomous driving — with a total value of $36 billion, according to research firm Preqin. That’s more in dollar terms than Silicon Valley’s top two heavyweights, Sequoia Capital and Silver Lake, combined.

“I have never thought that SoftBank’s core business is telecommunications in any one day in my whole life, because SoftBank’s core business is the information revolution,” Son said at a briefing in November.

The company is scheduled to report its earnings results on Feb. 7.

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