SoftBank’s mobile unit’s share price set for Dec. 19 IPO

TOKYO (AP) — The price for the initial public offering of SoftBank Group Corp.’s Japanese mobile subsidiary was set Monday at 1,500 yen ($13) a share.

The Dec. 19 IPO on the Tokyo Stock Exchange will likely raise more than 2 trillion yen ($18 billion) and will be one of the world’s biggest share offerings, rivaling that of China’s Alibaba Group, which went public in 2014. Facebook raised $16 billion when it went public in 2012.

The IPO comes on the heels of an embarrassing massive service outage last week, which the company blamed on a software problem. It had initially cited mechanical problems.

How many people were affected remains under investigation, SoftBank said, but millions of people are signed on to the service in Japan. Some said they could not text important messages or make payments with their cell phones, highlighting the country’s dependence on mobile services.

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Softbank apologized for the problems, saying in a statement that “We take this matter extremely seriously and will do our utmost to take all measures possible to prevent a recurrence.”

The IPO price announced Monday was the same as the preliminary price announced last month. The company is listing 1.6 billion shares.

SoftBank Group’s chief, Masayoshi Son, has drawn attention for his relations with Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman after the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

About half of SoftBank Group’s $100 billion Vision Fund comes from the kingdom. The fund has been investing in solar projects and artificial intelligence.

The parent SoftBank is eager to add cash for its investments not linked to Saudi Arabia.

It has invested in a range of companies globally, including U.S. wireless company Sprint, British IoT company ARM, Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, U.S. ride-sharing service Uber and office space sharing WeWork. SoftBank is also the creator of the Pepper companion robot.

SoftBank, founded in 1986, was initially a software, broadband and fixed-line telecommunications businesses. As a mobile carrier, it was the first to offer the Apple iPhone in Japan. ___

Yuri Kageyama is on Twitter at https://twitter.com/yurikageyama

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