[TOKYO] Japan Post Holdings Co Ltd bought 731 billion yen ($5.93 billion) worth of its own shares on Thursday in off-hours trading, the biggest share buyback ever conducted through the Tokyo Stock Exchange.
The firm bought 383 million of its own shares, mostly from the government, which plans to use the proceeds to fund reconstruction of areas hit by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
The buyback helped boost the stock by as much as 2.1 per cent during morning trade.
The repurchased shares represented 8.5 per cent of Japan Post Holding's total outstanding and reduced the government's stake in the firm to around 80 per cent.
The repurchase fulfills a pledge made on Oct 19, when the company said it would buy back shares before the end-March 2016.
Japan Post Holdings and its two financial units launched a US$12 billion triple IPO in early November, making it Japan's biggest privatisation since 1987.
Japan's government eventually aims to raise a total of 4 trillion yen through additional stake sales over the next few years in an effort to fund reconstruction of areas hit by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
The privatisation also serves as a key step in Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's plans to jump-start Japan's sluggish economy by encouraging househoulds to invest or spend more of their low-yielding bank deposits.