Softbank Corp, billionaire Masayoshi Son's investment company, will sell an 8.5 percent stake in Yahoo Japan Corp, raising about US$693 million to help fend off challenges to its high-speed Internet access business.
Son plans to use the funds from the stake sale to increase marketing of his company's Yahoo BB service, which is facing a growing threat from units of Nippon Telephone & Telegraph Corp, Japan's biggest telephone company.
Son slid from eighth to 386th on Forbes magazine's list of the world's richest people in three years and has been selling Internet investments to raise funds for Yahoo BB. The broadband network, which allows access to music and movies 100 times faster than dial-up services, has 2 million subscribers, one-third of the total, while two regional NTT units have about 2.2 million users.
"Softbank has been pushing the Yahoo BB business aggressively" to establish itself as the market leader, said Koichi Seki, an equity manager at Chuo Securities Co.
Softbank and one of its units will sell 40,000 shares of Yahoo Japan, a venture with US-based Internet directory Yahoo Inc, reducing Softbank's stake to 42 percent. At Friday's closing price, the stake would be worth ¥82 billion (US$693 million).
Softbank shares surged as much as 8.5 percent, while those of Yahoo Japan sank as much as 9.8 percent.
Softbank shares, which fell 97 percent in the past three years as Internet stocks plunged worldwide, closed trading at ¥1,730 at 3pm on the Tokyo Stock Exchange, arise of 10 percent. Yahoo Japan shares fell 10 percent to ¥1.84 million.
Softbank spokesman Katsumasa Tochihara said the company may also use the funds to repay more of its US$2.5 billion debt owed as of September. The company has been selling assets including some of its stake in Yahoo Inc., and is negotiating the sale of its 49 percent stake in Aozora Bank Ltd.
The number of Internet users in Japan for slower, dial-up Internet access services almost doubled in two years to about 20.8 million as the end of January, according to the Ministry of Public Management, Home Affairs, Posts and Telecommunications.
Over the same period, the number of Japan's high-speed Internet users rose from almost nothing to about 6 million.
The Nihon Keizai newspaper earlier reported that Softbank is reducing its stake partly to qualify Yahoo Japan for a listing on the first section of the exchange, which will allow more investors to buy its stock.
SUPPLY CHAIN RESHUFFLE: The chipmaker was ‘cautious’ in not making commitments too early in building production in the US, citing ‘geopolitical factors,’ Nikkei Asia said Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC, 台積電) is considering building an advanced IC packaging plant in the US following a massive investment to set up a wafer fab in Arizona, Nikkei Asia reported. TSMC was considering the plant in response to “Washington’s desire to bring more of the tech supply chain onto home turf,” the report said. TSMC increasingly faces the need to expand in the US, which accounts for about 62 percent of its total sales, Nikkei Asia said, citing three sources who declined to be named. The potential US plant would be equipped with the latest 3D stacking technologies to arrange chips
As much as the US pines for the good old days of global semiconductor supremacy, Japan feels its loss of glory even more. Once a dominant name in electronic components, the nation has been overtaken by Taiwan, South Korea, and, more recently, China. Yet Tokyo might have a viable plan to revitalize its domestic sector. “Unlike the purely domestic, independent way it was done in the past, I think we need to cooperate with overseas counterparts,” Akira Amari, a former economy minister and senior member of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, told Bloomberg News’ Isabel Reynolds and Emi Nobuhiro this week. That is
Apple Inc has hired Ulrich Kranz, a former senior executive at BMW AG’s electric vehicle (EV) division, to help lead its own vehicle efforts, people familiar with the situation said. The tech giant hired Kranz in recent weeks, about a month after he stepped down as CEO of Canoo Inc, a developer of self-driving EVs. Before cofounding Canoo, Kranz was senior vice president of the group that developed the i3 and i8 cars at BMW, where he worked for 30 years. Kranz is one of Apple’s most significant automotive hires, a clear sign that the iPhone maker is determined to build a
MARKET BOOST: Elon Musk said Tesla would resume bitcoin transactions once there is ‘reasonable’ clean energy usage by miners and denied selling a big part of his holdings Bitcoin yesterday hit a two-week peak just shy of US$40,000, after another weekend reacting to tweets from Tesla Inc chief executive Elon Musk, who fended off criticism over his market influence and said Tesla sold bitcoin, but might resume transactions using it. Bitcoin has gyrated to Musk’s views for months since Tesla announced a US$1.5 billion bitcoin purchase in February and said it would take the cryptocurrency in payment. He later said the electric vehicle maker would not accept bitcoin due to concerns over how mining the currency requires high energy use and contributes to climate change. “When there’s confirmation of reasonable