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[TOKYO] Japan's SoftBank said on Tuesday nine-month net profit rose 15.9 per cent to a record high, boosted by its huge stake in Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, which listed in New York last year.
Net profit for April-December came in at 579.4 billion yen (S$6.6 billion), although it said gains were eroded by restructuring at newly acquired US wireless carrier Sprint.
SoftBank has a one-third equity stake in Alibaba, whose US$25.02 billion initial public offering in New York in September was the biggest in history. The firm made a US$5 billion gain from the listing.
In the December quarter alone, however, net profit dived 79.1 per cent to 18.7 billion yen because of heavier losses at number-three US wireless operator Sprint, which the Japanese firm bought for US$21.6 billion last year.
"Getting Sprint into shape will not happen overnight and might take half a year to a year," Satoru Kikuchi, an analyst at SMBC Nikko Securities told Bloomberg News before the earnings announcement.
SoftBank's April-December revenue soared 41.0 per cent to 6.4 trillion yen thanks to contributions from the US carrier and other acquisitions.
But operating profit fell 16.2 per cent to 788.0 billion yen due partly to costs to reduce payrolls at Sprint and the absence of one-off gains the group reported a year before from business mergers.
SoftBank left untouched its annual operating profit estimate at 900 billion yen on revenue of 8.0 trillion yen.