Japan-based SoftBank Group brushed aside reports it is preparing to list its mobile unit in Tokyo and overseas, stating it is yet to reach a decision on the move.
The company, which is led by Masayoshi Son, issued a statement explaining “no decision has been made to officially proceed” with the listings. The group played down the press speculation, noting it is “always studying various capital strategy options,” and explaining a listing of “SoftBank Corp shares is one such option”.
Nikkei Asian Review reported the mobile unit will apply to the Tokyo Stock Exchange as early as spring, aiming for shares to trade by autumn. It is also planning for an overseas debut, possibly in London, at about the same time. The initial public offering (IPO), involving the sale of 30 per cent of SoftBank’s shares, would bring in as much as JPY2 trillion yen ($18 billion), which would make it one of the largest IPOs by a Japanese company, the newspaper said.
SoftBank Group, which acquired US-based Sprint in 2013 and UK-headquartered chip designer ARM in 2016, would maintain about a 70 per cent interest in the Japanese mobile unit, which is the country’s third largest mobile player with an 18.5 per cent share of total subscribers in the country.
In October 2016, SoftBank Group set up the Vision Fund with the Saudi Arabian government and other investors to focus on investing in new innovations across a range of industries. The fund had raised $93 billion as of May 2017, and Son said he wants the initiative to help lay the foundations for SoftBank’s future.
The group accumulated a debt of about JPY14 trillion as of September 2017, but plans to use the proceeds of the IPO to fuel growth by investing in IT companies rather than paying down its massive debt, Nikkei Asian Review reported.
SoftBank’s raft of new investments have complicated its corporate structure, which Reuters said left some investors struggling to value the company and analysts complaining its market value does not accurately reflect the value of its massive holdings.