Japanese telecommunications giant SoftBank is considering an IPO of its Japanese mobile phone business, in a move that could raise ¥3 trillion ($18bn). The share sale, to take place on the Tokyo Stock Exchange and abroad, will become the biggest IPO in Japan’s history – and would cement SoftBank’s position as one of the world’s largest tech investors.
The company, which last May launched its $93bn Vision Fund and has since been active across the tech world, reportedly intends to sell around 30% of outstanding shares in its mobile business to investors, retaining a 70% stake.
Japanese firms are required to sell at least 35% of their shares. But this rule could be bypassed if SoftBank also lists them overseas. That has led to speculation the company plans to float shares on the London Stock Exchange, a move it is yet to deny.
“We are always studying various capital strategy options,” SoftBank said via a written statement. “The listing of Softbank Corp. shares is one such option, but no decision has been made to officially proceed with this course.”
The sell-off will allow SoftBank to spin out its mobile operation, without losing ultimate control, while furnishing it will a huge payout with which to continue funding companies it believes will yield high rewards.
SoftBank, whose market capitalization currently stands at around $92bn, already has a 30% stake in Chinese e-commerce firm Alibaba, which is worth around $140bn. It has been busy investing in high-tech ventures of late, including high-profile funding of China’s DiDi Chuxing and southeast Asian ride-hailing app Grab. A forthcoming investment in Uber will consolidate SoftBank’s strong position in global transport solutions.