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SoftBank plans multibillion-dollar bond sale to lock in low rates

Move also seeks to decouple mobile unit from parent's debt ahead of IPO

SoftBank is preparing to list its domestic telecom business, the group's top earner, sometime this year. (Photo by Taichiro Sunaga)

TOKYO -- SoftBank Group will issue several billion dollars worth of bonds for institutional investors in a move that market sources say prepares for the listing of the Japanese company's domestic telecom business.

Proceeds from the sale of five- and seven-year bonds denominated in dollars and euros will go toward early redemption of debt issued in 2013 that was guaranteed by the mobile unit. With interest rates forecast to rise, raising funds now will lock in low borrowing costs.

The size of the new offering and the coupon rates have yet to be determined, but SoftBank appears to want to raise a similar amount as the 2013 issue's roughly 320 billion yen ($2.98 billion at current rates).

The mobile unit has guaranteed much of SoftBank's debt -- an arrangement designed to improve the group's creditworthiness but which is likely to come under scrutiny by the Tokyo Stock Exchange when it reviews the listing application.

Amid a trend away from parent-subsidiary dual listings in Japan, the bourse is expected to take a careful look at the unit's independence from SoftBank.

The listing is expected to raise around 2 trillion yen for Masayoshi Son's group, which is trying to recast itself as a tech investment holding company.

SoftBank last issued bonds in September, selling about 660 billion yen in dollar- and euro-denominated debt.

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