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[TOKYO] The Tokyo Stock Exchange on Thursday approved Japan Post's plans for an initial public offering later this year, setting up a whopping share sale that could top US$11 billion.
The vast government-owned company, which has about 24,000 offices nationwide, along with its insurance and banking units plan to list their shares in Tokyo on November 4, according to an exchange filing.
The planned IPO comes amid hopes that starting to privatise what is effectively the world's biggest bank could boost investor sentiment and spur efforts to cut red tape in Japan's highly regulated economy.
The firm's offices also offer services for cash deposits and insurance, and a local branch where many of Japan's ageing retirees withdraw their pension payments.
The top-selling Yomiuri newspaper said Thursday that the parent company's stock would be priced at 1,350 yen (US$11) per share, while the insurance and bank divisions would be listed at 1,400 yen and 2,150 yen, respectively, it added.
That combined IPO, based on the reported prices, was likely to generate about 1.4 trillion yen (US$11.6 billion) from the sales.
Some 80 per cent of the offering would be for domestic investors, while the remainder would be earmarked for foreign buyers, Japan Post said Thursday.
The group's mail-delivery unit will remain untouched amid social and political pressure to maintain the status quo, including the presence of post offices across the nation, even in the most remote villages.
The government of former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi split the state-owned behemoth into four units in 2007, to handle deliveries, savings, insurance and counter services at each of its post offices.
The government retained full ownership of the group at first, with plans for the bank and insurance units to go fully private by 2017.
But the plan was stalled after the long-ruling Liberal Democratic Party lost power to the Democratic Party of Japan between 2009 to 2012.
After returning to power in 2012, the current LDP-led government has resumed privatisation project.