Softbank is reported to be considering its options with regard to its future ownership of fellow Japanese operator eAccess, a company it agreed to acquire shortly before announcing a megadeal to take control of US operator Sprint.

According to Bloomberg, Masayoshi Son, president of Softbank, told reporters that the company is assessing the “merits and demerits” of owning all of eAccess, with the suggestion it may reduce its holding to around one-third once the deal is complete early next year.

Softbank is looking to acquire eAccess, which operates as EMOBILE, in a bid to close the gap to market leader NTT Docomo, in a deal worth around US$2.3 billion. However, shortly after this deal, Softbank announced a US$20.1 billion bid to take a 70 percent share in US operator Sprint, sparking concern that the Japanese company may be overstretching itself.

For the six months to 30 September, on a group level Softbank reported a 22 percent drop in net income to JPY169.43 billion (US$2.12 billion), on revenue up 3.3 percent to JPY1.59 trillion.

Its net income was impacted by the IPO of Chinese social network Renren and the transfer of sales in Yahoo – otherwise its profit “remains stable”, the company said.

For the mobile business, operating income increased 6.5 percent year-on-year to JYP266.4 billion, on revenue which grew 2.7 percent to JPY1.05 trillion.

The growth in sales was attributed to a “steady growth in the number of mobile phone subscribers”, although handset revenue decreased due to the mix shifting in favour of lower-priced devices.

It noted increased depreciation and amortisation charges in its mobile business, related to the installation of additional base stations.
Softbank saw around 1.5 million net subscriber additions during the period, making it “overwhelmingly number one” among the “big three” operators, and taking its total to 30.46 million.

This growth was attributed to “steady sales of smartphones such as iPhone and Android handsets, as well as strong sales of iPad, and Mimamori Phone (handset with security buzzer)”.

ARPU for the second quarter fell by JPY230 to JPY4,070, with growth in data partially offsetting falling voice sales.

The decline in voice ARPU was said to “mainly reflect dilution due to an increase in devices that do not have voice communication functionality (such as iPad and mobile data communications devices) and a decrease in revenues from incoming calls, which was the result of a reduction in interconnection charges between operators”.

The company also noted a JPY8.5 billion loss associated with the share price fall of social gaming company Zynga, in which it is a shareholder.

Softbank said that in the fiscal year to 31 March 2013, it will “continue to focus on network expansion and customer acquisition in the Mobile Communications segment”. Although this will increase its expenses, its customer base is “expected to continue and expand steadily”.