SoftBank to sell up to $41 billion in assets to expand share buyback, cut debt

FILE PHOTO: FILE PHOTO: Japan's SoftBank Group Corp Chief Executive Masayoshi Son bows his head after his presentation at a news conference in Tokyo, Japan, November 5, 2018. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon -/File Photo

SoftBank Group Corp said on Monday it is selling up to 4.5 trillion yen ($41 billion) in assets to buy back another 2 trillion yen of its shares and reduce debt.

The share buyback, which will be the Japanese tech conglomerate’s biggest ever repurchase, will be in addition to the up to 500 billion yen buyback announced earlier this month and comes amid pressure from activist hedge fund Elliott Management to improve shareholder returns.

The move comes as SoftBank’s share price has been hammered by investor scepticism over the outlook for CEO Masayoshi Son’s bets on startups like WeWork and Uber.

SoftBank’s share price extended early gains on Monday, jumping 19% following the announcement of the asset sales, which will be executed over the next four quarters. SoftBank did not specify what would be sold.

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