May 10, 2019 / 9:04 AM / 15 days ago

SoftBank Group shares tumble as Uber prices IPO at lower end

FILE PHOTO: The logo of SoftBank Group Corp is displayed at SoftBank World 2017 conference in Tokyo, Japan, July 20, 2017. REUTERS/Issei Kato/File Photo

TOKYO (Reuters) - Shares in Japanese conglomerate SoftBank Group Corp tumbled 5.5% on Friday, a day after one of its biggest tech bets, Uber Technologies, priced its initial public offering at the low end of the targeted range.

A successful market debut of Uber will be seen as a test of SoftBank’s investment strategy, as other big tech firms in its almost $100 billion Vision Fund also head toward public listings.

Uber’s listing is the most anticipated IPO since Facebook Inc’s market debut seven years ago, and the world’s largest ride-hailing firm hopes its conservative pricing approach will spare it the trading plunge suffered by rival Lyft Inc.

“(SoftBank) shares have gone up ahead of Uber’s IPO, but some investors may have sold shares once the price was decided,” said Tsutomu Yamada, a market analyst at Kabu.com Securities.

The value of Vision Fund’s stake in Uber grew 418 billion yen ($3.8 billion) last year.

Shares in SoftBank tumbled as much as 5.5% on Friday, its biggest percentage drop in five months, wiping $6 billion off its market capitalization. The group is now valued at around $104 billion.

SoftBank’s transition away from telecoms toward tech investments accelerated with the 2.35 trillion yen listing of a third of its domestic telco SoftBank Corp in December in what was Japan’s largest-ever IPO.

That provided the funds for a share buyback that has helped drive up the parent group’s stock by nearly 50 percent this year.

Pledging to enhance shareholder returns, SoftBank Group announced a stock split on Thursday, while leaving the per-share dividend unchanged for the current financial year, effectively doubling its shareholder payout.

Reporting by Takashi Umekawa; Editing by Miyoung Kim

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