SoftBank To Sell 5% of Wireless Unit in Japan For $2.9 Billion

(Bloomberg) -- SoftBank Group Corp. said it will raise about 310.2 billion yen ($2.9 billion) by selling a 5% stake in its Japanese wireless subsidiary this month, the latest in a series of asset divestitures intended to fortify its ailing balance sheet.

The group intends to sell 240 million shares of SoftBank Corp., reducing its ownership stake to 62.1% after the deal, the parent company said in a statement on Friday. The total amount raised is slightly below that implied by the 1,306.5 yen to 1,320 yen price range SoftBank announced one day earlier. The deal closes on May 26.

Founder Masayoshi Son has said he would sell off about $42 billion in assets to help finance stock buybacks and pay down debt. SoftBank disclosed it’s selling shares in Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. through complex contracts, and it’s in talks to sell about $20 billion of T-Mobile US Inc., Bloomberg News reported this week.

SoftBank Corp. shares fell as much as 3.4% to 1,327.5 yen in Tokyo trading on Friday. The unit first sold shares to the public in December 2018 at 1,500 yen a share.

Son is struggling with the impact of the coronavirus on a portfolio of startups weighted heavily toward the sharing economy. Its Vision Fund business lost 1.9 trillion yen last fiscal year after writing down the value of investments from WeWork to Uber Technologies Inc. The billionaire has turned to ever larger stock buybacks to sustain SoftBank in the interim.

The mounting losses have also imposed immense pressure on SoftBank’s often opaque structure and management.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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