The government may begin the process to sell about ¥950 billion ($8.5 billion) shares in Japan Post Holdings Co. as soon as this week, marking the state’s ongoing privatization of the postal and financial-services giant six years after its initial public offering.

Officials are due to hold a meeting with bankers Wednesday to start work on the third round of the share sale the government aims to complete by the end of the year, according to people with knowledge of the situation who asked not to identified because the matter is private.

With the offering, the state plans to cut its stake to one third — the minimum it’s required to hold by law — from about 61% currently, the people said. Japan Post is also considering buying back some of its shares from the government, they said.

Shares in Japan Post were trading down 4% early Wednesday morning and have gained 26% so far this year.

Japan is seeking to raise about ¥4 trillion from the sale to fund the reconstruction of areas devastated by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami. The government previously owned 100% of Japan Post and raised ¥1.4 trillion in 2015, when it sold a 19.5% holding, and ¥1.4 trillion in 2017, when it offloaded a further 23.6%.

The Finance Ministry selected the underwriters for the sale in 2019. Daiwa Securities Group Inc., Mizuho Securities Co. and SMBC Nikko Securities Inc. are managing the domestic portion of the offering. Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Bank of America Corp. and JPMorgan Chase & Co. are handling the overseas sale.

The third round of the sale was expected in 2019 but became difficult after the value of Japan Post shares fell sharply in the wake of a scandal over improper sales practice at its insurance unit.

An official at the Finance Ministry said it would consider the timing of the sale by watching market trends and Japan Post’s business conditions, and that it won’t disclose each preparatory step. A representative for Japan Post said nothing was decided about a possible share buyback.

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