SoftBank to Sell a Stake in Alibaba
SAN FRANCISCO — SoftBank, the Japanese telecommunications company, said on Tuesday that it planned to sell about $8 billion worth of its stake in the Alibaba Group of China to help pay down its debt load.
It will be the first time that SoftBank has sold any of its shares in the Chinese e-commerce giant since first investing in that company 16 years ago, becoming one of the first believers in Alibaba’s potential.
SoftBank plans to sell its stake in stages. Approximately $5 billion will be packaged into a financial security that will convert into shares in Alibaba after three years.
Alibaba itself will buy back about $2 billion worth of shares from SoftBank. The Chinese company’s partnership, a group that essentially controls the e-commerce giant through its ability to nominate a majority of directors, plans to buy an additional $400 million worth of shares.
And SoftBank will sell another $500 million shares to an unnamed government’s investment fund.
In a statement, SoftBank — the majority owner of Sprint in the United States — said that the stock sales were meant to reduce its corporate debt burden. The company reported holding about 8.5 trillion yen, or just under $77 billion, worth of long-term debt as of March 31, according to Standard & Poor’s Capital IQ, a research service.
软银是美国Sprint公司的控股股东。在一份声明中，软银表示，出售阿里巴巴的这些股份意在减轻自身的债务负担。据研究公司标普资本智商(Standard & Poor’s Capital IQ)统计，截至今年的3月31日，软银的长期债务价值约为8.5万亿日元（逾5000亿元人民币）。
Even after the sale, however, SoftBank said that it would remain one of Alibaba’s biggest shareholders, with a stake of about 28 percent. Masayoshi Son, the Japanese company’s chairman and chief executive, will remain on Alibaba’s board. Alibaba’s co-founder and executive chairman, Jack Ma, will still be a director of SoftBank, as well.
“This investment has been phenomenally successful and, over the past 16 years, we have built a close relationship, working together on many exciting projects,” Mr. Son said in a statement. “In that time, we have not sold any Alibaba shares. There are huge opportunities ahead for Alibaba and SBG looks forward to the continued partnership.”