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Japan's SMFG, SBI to form smartphone service tie-up: Nikkei

TOKYO (Reuters) - Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group Inc will tie up with internet brokerage SBI Holdings in a smartphone service business, the Nikkei newspaper reported on Monday, adding the two firms are expected to reach an agreement this week.

SMFG in June will acquire a 20% stake in SBI NeoMobile Securities, a online brokerage specialized for smartphones, which is worth a few billion yen, the Nikkei said.

SMFG is also considering a capital tie-up with SBI Holdings, the Nikkei reported.

A SBI spokesman declined to comment. SMFG could not be reached for comment immediately.

The move comes as Japanese banks have been struggling to profit under a policy of aggressive monetary easing that has seen the central bank guide short-term rates toward minus 0.1% and the 10-year government bond yield to around 0%.

The Bank of Japan expanded monetary stimulus on Monday and pledged to buy unlimited amount of bonds to keep borrowing costs low as the government tries to spend its way out of the deepening economic pain from the coronavirus pandemic.

SMFG, Japan’s second-largest lender by assets, had said its net interest income at the banking arm was at 652.2 billion yen ($6.1 billion) for the nine months through December, a 6.3% decline from a year earlier.

Reporting by Takashi Umekawa; Editing by Jason Neely and Christian Schmollinger

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