SoftBank sets indicative IPO price at 1,500 yen, unchanged from initial estimate

SoftBank chalked up another first in Japan on Friday, setting a single indicative price of 1,500 yen for its telco IPO rather than the usual range, pegging the share sale at 2.4 trillion yen ($21.16 billion) in the country’s biggest-ever listing.

The price was unchanged from the estimate that SoftBank Corp, the domestic telecommunications subsidiary of Japan’s SoftBank Group Corp, announced when it launched the initial public offering (IPO) earlier this month.

The IPO is aimed at providing the group with funds to pay down debt and place big bets on innovations that Chief Executive Masayoshi Son predicts will drive future tech trends.

Reasons for sticking with the first estimate were not immediately clear. Brokerages initially expressed concern over whether there would be sufficient demand for the IPO given the size of the sale but have since reported strong interest.

To help generate that interest, brokerages have been engaged in an unprecedented marketing campaign, including what are believed to be Japan’s first TV ads for a private firm’s IPO.

“From what we are getting from our customers, we have demand greater than the number of shares we are allocated to sell,” said a senior official at one of major brokerage.

Others have said the initial estimate was already high considering the telco’s finances compared with its peers.

The IPO’s underwriters declined to comment. Bankers, who said it was the first time a firm had foregone a price range in a Japanese IPO, spoke on condition of anonymity.

In IPOs, firms usually set an indicative price range after receiving feedback from institutional investors on initial price estimates. Brokerages then open their order books for a set period, at the end of which a sale price is determined.

For instance, for the June IPO of Mercari Inc, the flea market app operator initially estimated a share price of 2,200-2,700 yen before formally announcing an indicative range of 2,700-3,000 yen. It set its final IPO price at 3,000 yen.

Bookbuilding for SoftBank starts on Monday and a final price will be set on December 10. The shares begin trading on December 19.

Fully aware of the mature image of Japan’s domestic telecoms business, SoftBank has been pitching itself as a tech-driven growth company, saying it will launch new businesses by teaming up with startups backed by its parent’s Vision Fund.

But many retail investors are likely to see SoftBank rather as a stable investment with the added appeal of a high dividend payout. Its 85 percent payout promise is much higher than those of rivals NTT DoCoMo Inc and KDDI Corp.

Nomura, Mizuho, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, and SMBC Nikko are joint global coordinators for the IPO.

Source: Reuters

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