Japan’s SoftBank Group is reported to be planning to list its core mobile-phone unit in Tokyo as early as this spring, in a deal that could raise some 2 trillion yen (US$18 billion).
The parent will sell some 30 percent of SoftBank Corp, aiming to debut the shares on the Tokyo Stock Exchange in an IPO that would rival the 2.2 trillion yen 1987 listing of NTT Corp in size, the Nikkei newspaper reported, according to Reuters.
An overseas listing, possibly London, could take place around autumn, according to the report.
The listing would aim to give the mobile-phone unit more autonomy in a group that has become more of an international investment company in recent years.
SoftBank will use the proceeds to invest in growth, such as buying into foreign information-technology companies, the Nikkei said, without identifying its source.
The plan comes as SoftBank has been aggressively investing in tech companies worldwide, notably through its US$98 billion London-based Vision Fund.
The company said last month that a group led by it will buy a large number of shares of Uber Technologies in a deal that values the ride-services firm at US$48 billion.
“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,” Erik Gordon, a professor at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business, told Reuters.
“It is a way of obtaining capital without adding debt or diluting SoftBank’s equity interests in the growth companies,” Gordon was quoted as saying by email.
A parent company normally must limit its stake in a subsidiary listed on the TSE First Section to less than 65 percent, but the requirement can be eased if the unit also lists overseas, the Nikkei noted.
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