SoftBank resumes buybacks with modest RM1.6b in September

TOKYO • SoftBank Group Corp resumed buying back shares in September, shelling out ¥40.1 billion (RM1.6 billion) after suspending in August a multibillion-dollar programme that’s proven instrumental in buoying the stock.

Masayoshi Son’s conglomerate bought back 6.17 million shares last month, it said in a filing yesterday, part of a now half-completed ¥2.5 trillion buyback programme. The firm halted that in early August, about a month before announcing a deal to sell UK chip designer Arm Ltd to Nvidia Corp for US$40 billion (RM166 billion).

The Japanese company resumed buying on Sept 15, the day after unveiling that mega-deal, then bought on every single business day till the final five days of the September quarter, when it’s prohibited from doing so. Despite the flurry of purchases, its shares are still down 2% over the month, after news emerged that the company was trading tech options, a strategy some investors deemed risky.

Still, SoftBank’s stock is at two-decade highs, bouncing back after a year of coronavirus setbacks and losses at start-ups such as WeWork. It’s more than doubled from its March Covid-19 trough, aided also by plans to offload ¥4.5 trillion in assets — an effort SoftBank is on track to surpass.

It’s so far only spent roughly ¥1 trillion of its envisioned share repurchase amount.

As of September, it had used just a fraction of the ¥500 billion it pledged in a programme decided on June 25. It also hasn’t launched a ¥1 trillion buyback plan the board agreed upon on July 30.

SoftBank acknowledged in July it might not complete the buybacks by its originally scheduled target of March 31, the end of its fiscal year. — Bloomberg