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SoftBank

SoftBank agrees to sell most of T-Mobile stake in $21bn deal

Deal brings technology group closer to $41bn asset sale target

SoftBank Group is set to sell most of its shares in U.S. telecoms group T-Mobile. (Source photos by Reuters and Ken Kobayashi)

TOKYO -- SoftBank Group on Tuesday said it is selling nearly two-thirds of its stake in U.S. carrier T-Mobile, currently worth around $21 billion, and give its German parent options to buy most of its remaining stake, bringing the Japanese technology group a step closer to completing its plan for $41 billion of asset sales.

The announcement boosted SoftBank's Tokyo-listed shares and will likely ease pressure from activist shareholders and lenders after the conglomerate posted a $9 billion loss in the year ended in March. But it also marks the end of Chairman and CEO Masayoshi Son's years-long attempt to crack the U.S. telecommunications market. 

The deal, announced by both companies on Tuesday, involves SoftBank selling up to 198 million shares, worth around $21 billion based on T-Mobile's closing price on Monday.

T-Mobile will then sell the shares via public and private offerings, to T-Mobile shareholders and to Marcelo Claure, a SoftBank director.

In the second sale, SoftBank will give T-Mobile's parent Deutsche Telekom the option to purchase another 101 million shares, worth around $10.8 billion, until June 22, 2024. 

If both transactions are completed, SoftBank's stake in T-Mobile will fall from about 24% to less than 0.4%. T-Mobile said director Ronald Fisher, a director appointed by SoftBank, will leave its board.

SoftBank is paying a $300 million fee to T-Mobile, on top of fees and expenses related to the transactions. The exact price and number of shares that will be sold will be determined on Tuesday, U.S. time, SoftBank said. 

SoftBank announced plans in March to "monetize" up to $41 billion in assets to boost share buybacks and cut debt after its stock and bond prices tumbled during market turmoil. Shares have since more than doubled. They rose another 2% in early trading on Tuesday.

SoftBank has already struck deals to raise $11.5 billion using a chunk of its stake in Alibaba Group Holding, as well as about $3 billion worth of shares in its Japanese mobile arm SoftBank Corp. A SoftBank spokesperson declined to comment on whether it will sell more assets after the T-Mobile sale.

The string of deals may ease the pressure on Son ahead of a shareholders meeting on Thursday. In May, SoftBank reported its biggest loss in history due to a string of investments that had gone sour.

SoftBank acquired its stake in T-Mobile after merging its Sprint mobile unit with the German carrier's US business this year. SoftBank bought Sprint for $21.6 billion in 2013 to start an ultimately unsuccessful attempt to challenge the dominant U.S. carriers.

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