SoftBank chairman and CEO Masayoshi Son said he will appoint the head of its US-based investment arm Nikesh Arora (pictured) as representative director and president of SoftBank, suggesting he could name him as a future successor.
The former Google executive joined the company last October as vice chairman of SoftBank and CEO of SoftBank Internet and Media.
The move could be a signal that the operator plans to expand outside of Japan again after its acquisition of Sprint in 2013.
Meanwhile, SoftBank reported a sharp improvement in both profit and revenue for the fiscal year ending 31 March 2015, driven by a strong increase in mobile sales.
Its net profit surged 32.1 per cent to JPY763.6 billion ($6.34 billion), while revenue increased 30.1 per cent to JPY8.67 trillion. Mobile turnover last year (comprising SoftBank Mobile, Ymobile, Wireless City Planning, Brighstar, SoftBank Telecom, Supercell and GungHo Online Entertainment) expanded 31.9 per cent to JPY4.14 trillion.
Japanese operator SoftBank Mobile added 1.8 million subscribers last year, bringing its total subscriber base to 37.8 million. ARPU decreased 5 per cent year-on-year to JPY4,230. Its churn rate was up marginally to 1.33 per cent.
Revenue at its US unit Sprint increased 47.1 per cent to JPY3.8 trillion – the growth was mainly due to Sprint reporting sales for the full year compared to just nine months the previous year after its acquisition.
SoftBank said Sprint continues to “face a challenging competitive environment, recording postpaid net subscriber loss and segment income was also subdued at JPY73.8 billion”. To improve this, the company said it is taking steps to boost its network, strengthen customer retention and acquisition, and reduce costs.
Specifically, it is increasing the number of base stations carrying the 800MHz spectrum to provide wide-area coverage and 2.5GHz spectrum to provide additional data capacity, while densifying the network by increasing the number of multi-band base stations.
Sprint, the number 3 player in the US, added 449,000 prepaid customers, but lost 212,000 postpaid uses, giving it a total of 56.1 million subscribers. The Sprint platform had 2.58 million net additions, with communication modules for automobiles accounting for the vast majority of those.
Sprint reports average billings per user (ABPU), which is the sum of ARPU and monthly-average equipment billings. Postpaid ABPU fell to $61.71 in Q4, a 3.7 per cent year-on-year decrease. The operator said this was mainly due to an increased number of subscriptions to lower price plans offered in conjunction with device financing programmes. Its churn fell slightly to 1.84 per cent.
SoftBank’s fixed-line business (SoftBank Telecom, SoftBank BB, Ymobile and Yahoo Japan) saw sales decline 1.3 per cent to JPY541 billion and its internet unit (Yahoo Japan) saw revenue increase 4.8 per cent to JPY419 billion.
The company’s financial report stated that providing forecasts for the next fiscal year was “difficult due to a large number of uncertain factors affecting the earnings”.