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Japan’s SoftBank Group soars on listing reports

Shares in Japan's SoftBank Group soared six percent Monday on reports it could list its mobile unit, raising up to $18 billion in one of the country's biggest public offerings.

In a statement, SoftBank Group insisted no decision had been made, but acknowledged the listing was an “option.”

“We are always studying various capital strategy options,” the company said.

“The listing of SoftBank Corp. shares is one such option, but no decision has been made to officially proceed with this course.”

The Nikkei economic daily, which first reported the plan, said the listing could bring in two trillion yen ($18 billion), one of the largest initial public offerings ever for a Japanese company.

The report sent SoftBank shares up nearly six percent at the market’s open, though they later settled up four percent.

The Nikkei said SoftBank hopes to apply to the Tokyo Stock Exchange in spring and begin trading on the bourse around autumn, offering around 30 percent of the shares in its subsidiary up to investors.

It is hoping for an overseas debut at the same time, possibly in London, the daily added.

SoftBank Group has been aggressively investing in technology ventures under its flamboyant leader, Masayoshi Son.

In 2016, it announced the creation of its massive Vision Fund — a venture capital fund worth nearly $100 billion, set up with Saudi Arabia’s government and other investors.

In December, SoftBank announced it was acquiring a large stake in the ridesharing giant Uber.

Sources said it was acquiring 15 percent of the company in a deal totalling $7.7 billion.

The Nikkei said the listing plans would further consolidate SoftBank Group’s status as an investment company and give its subsidiary greater autonomy.

The listing could rival the record 2.2 trillion yen that formerly state-run Nippon Telegraph and Telephone raised in 1987.

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