SoftBank is said to interview banks for wireless unit’s mega IPO

A man looks at the logo of SoftBank Group Corp at the company’s headquarters in Tokyo. (Reuters pic)

TOKYO: SoftBank Group Corp. is interviewing banks to arrange a planned initial public offering of its domestic wireless business, in what could become one of the world’s biggest share sales in years, people with knowledge of the matter said.

Foreign and local investment banks have been making formal pitches to SoftBank over the past few weeks, according to the people, who asked not to be identified because the information is private. SoftBank plans to select several lead underwriters as early as August, the people said. The offering could raise more than 2 trillion yen (US$18 billion), they said.

SoftBank aims for the mobile unit to begin trading in Tokyo in October, the people said. Precise terms of the offering haven’t been set, and the timetable for the listing could slip, the people said.

Billionaire founder Masayoshi Son is seeking to separate SoftBank’s activities into investing and telecommunications arms as it branches out into businesses ranging from ride-hailing to insurance. The firm submitted an application for an IPO to the Tokyo Stock Exchange earlier this month.

A spokeswoman for SoftBank declined to comment.

SoftBank has been informally working with Nomura Holdings Inc. on early preparations for the mobile IPO, people with knowledge of the matter said in February. It is considering marketing most of the stock to Japanese individual investors, the people said at the time.