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SoftBank Group to book 1.2t yen profit on share sale of Alibaba

Tokyo

JAPAN'S SoftBank Group Corp said on Tuesday it expects to book around 1.2 trillion yen (S$15.17 billion) in pre-tax profit on the sale of shares in China's Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.

The sale dates from 2016 when SoftBank sold part of its Alibaba stake via derivatives to fund its acquisition of British chip designer ARM.

The transaction leaves SoftBank with a 26 per cent stake in Alibaba worth US$101 billion. The Japanese investment firm said it would book the profit in the financial quarter ending June. SoftBank Group founder and chief executive Masayoshi Son bought into Alibaba for just US$20 million in 2000.

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The Chinese startup's growth into one of the world's biggest e-commerce companies has helped burnish Mr Son's tech investor credentials. The windfall comes as one of Mr Son's biggest tech bets, Uber Technologies Inc, has shown lacklustre stock market performance since its market debut last month. SoftBank booked a 418 billion yen gain on its Uber stake in the financial quarter ended March ahead of the debut. On Monday, Uber's shares closed 9 per cent below its IPO price at US$41.

Mr Son has referred to the value of the Alibaba stake to argue that SoftBank Group's shares are undervalued. Following the end of a 600 billion yen stock-buyback programme and Uber's disappointing listing, the shares have fallen 23 per cent from their April high.

SoftBank Group shares closed down 3 per cent on Tuesday ahead of the Alibaba sale announcement, giving the conglomerate a market capitalisation of 10.2 trillion yen.

New York-listed Alibaba is considering a follow-on share sale in Hong Kong to raise as much as US$20 billion to boost its investment war chest, people familiar with the matter told Reuters last week. REUTERS