SoftBank mobile unit begins trading in 1 of biggest IPOs

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SoftBank Group Corp.’s Japanese mobile subsidiary began trading on the Tokyo Stock Exchange on Wednesday in one of the world’s biggest share offerings.

Company president Ken Miyauchi and four other executives each rang a bell with a wooden hammer to celebrate the IPO that seeks to raise more than 2 trillion yen ($18 billion). They didn’t speak at the ceremony but are expected to announce the first-day results at a news conference after the market closes in the afternoon.

SoftBank shares fetched an initial price of 1,463 yen ($13.03) and slid further to end the morning session at 1,360 yen ($12), down 9 percent from the IPO price of 1,500 yen announced earlier this month.

The listing came about two weeks after a service outage attributed to a software problem affected a large number of customers in Japan. They were unable to text messages or make payments via mobile phones during the outage, which was resolved after several hours. SoftBank is listing 1.6 billion shares, or about one third held by its parent company.

The IPO compares with some of the world’s biggest. China’s Alibaba Group raised about $20 billion when it went public in 2014, and Facebook raised $16 billion in 2012.

About half of SoftBank Group’s $100 billion Vision Fund investment money comes from Saudi Arabia. The fund has been investing in solar projects and artificial intelligence. The parent SoftBank wants to add cash for its investments not linked to Saudi Arabia.

It has invested in a range of companies globally, such as US wireless company Sprint, British IoT company ARM and Chinese e-commerce Alibaba.

SoftBank, which created the Pepper companion robot, was founded in 1986, as a software, broadband and fixed-line telecommunications company. It was the first mobile carrier to offer the Apple iPhone in Japan.

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