SoftBank to buy back up to $4.8 billion of its shares after pressure from Elliott

FILE PHOTO: People walk behind the logo of SoftBank Corp in Tokyo December 18, 2014. REUTERS/Toru Hanai/File Photo

TOKYO (Reuters) – SoftBank Group Corp said on Friday it will buy back up to 7% of its own shares for as much as 500 billion yen ($4.8 billion) – a decision that comes after activist investor Elliott Management pressed for $20 billion in stock buybacks.

A SoftBank spokeswoman said the company had decided to conduct the buyback of its own accord after considering the risk that current stock market volatility could increase the deep discount that SoftBank’s stock has relative to the value of its holdings.

No fresh financing is planned for the buyback, the spokeswoman said.

The company said last month it plans to borrow up to 500 billion yen from 16 domestic and foreign financial institutions using part of its stake in telecommunications firm SoftBank Corp as collateral to boost its cash on hand.

Elliott, one of the world’s most powerful activist investors, has amassed a holding of almost $3 billion in SoftBank and has pressured SoftBank on a range of issues, including buybacks and improving transparency.

SoftBank’s shares were down nearly 8% in afternoon trade as the Tokyo market slumped on concern about the economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak.

Reporting by Tim Kelly and Makiko Yamazaki; Editing by Shri Navaratnam and Edwina Gibbs

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