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SoftBank to borrow 500b yen pledging telecom unit stock
[TOKYO] SoftBank Group plans to borrow as much as 500 billion yen (S$6.3 billion) by putting up shares of its Japanese telecom unit as collateral, raising capital for the investment giant's operations.
The money for the two-year loan, which will have a one-year extension option, will come from 16 financial institutions, SoftBank said in a statement on Wednesday. It pledged as much as 953 million shares of SoftBank and said the money will be used to fund operations.
Activist investor Paul Singer this month revealed his firm had acquired a stake of as much as US$3 billion in SoftBank and has advocated for a share buyback of as much as US$20 billion, along with governance changes and more transparency about its investments. SoftBank founder Masayoshi Son called Mr Singer's Elliott Management Corp an "important partner" and said he is in broad agreement with the investor about SoftBank buybacks and share value.
SoftBank will need to raise cash to meet those demands.Mr Son is adopting a more conciliatory stance just as he's struggling with the US$100 billion Vision Fund, which made him the biggest investor in technology. The fund lost money in the three months ended in December, one quarter after the meltdown at WeWork triggered a record loss for the Japanese company. Mr Son is trying to raise capital for a second fund, but last week said he is no longer targeting US$108 billion and SoftBank may finance the effort on its own.
The past 12 months have been tumultuous for Mr Son and SoftBank. A year ago, the company unveiled a record buyback, sparking a rally that pushed shares to the highest since its dot-com peak in 2000. Uber Technologies' disappointing public debut and the implosion of WeWork wiped out the gains over the next few months. But SoftBank surged again this month after Mr Singer disclosed his stake and Mr Son won approval to sell his Sprint Corp to T-Mobile US.
SoftBank has 13.75 trillion yen of interest-bearing debt, with more than 2.6 trillion yen of bonds coming due in the next three years. The company also had 3.8 trillion yen of cash and equivalents as of the end of December.