SoftBank considers listing stake in wireless business

SoftBank is considering an $18 billion IPO of its Japanese wireless business. The firm is considering listing 30 per cent of SoftBank Corp, the Nikkei report stated. It would represent the biggest IPO by a Japanese company in the best part of two decades, and would accelerate the conglomerate’s bid to transform into one of the world’s biggest tech investors.

Erik Gordon, a professor at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business told Reuters that the deal ‘makes sense’ for SoftBank. “It makes sense to spin off the mobile-phone business using a public offering that would leave SoftBank in control and provide SoftBank with more cash to pursue its strategy of investing in companies with potentially high growth prospects,” he said. “It is a way of obtaining capital without adding debt or diluting SoftBank’s equity interests in the growth companies.”

According to reports, SoftBank will seek approval from the Tokyo Stock Exchange in the spring with London also lined up as a destination to list the company. Companies seeking to list in Tokyo are required to float at least 35 per cent of their shares although these rules can be eased when the company is also listing overseas.

According to Nikkei, SoftBank would use the extra money to continue its investment in foreign IT firms. It has already acquired Vodafone’s Japanese operations and the US telecoms company Sprint. And in 2016, Softbank bought UK technology firm ARM Holdings for £24bn ($32bn).

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