Softbank Could Sell Up to $20B in T-Mobile Shares

Softbank Group said it is exploring options to monetize its stake in U.S. wireless carrier T-Mobile, a move that could raise as much as $20 billion and is part of a larger plan to sell off assets.

Softbank said Tuesday that it is exploring its options with the T-Mobile stake, which it acquired after it merged its U.S.-based wireless company Sprint with T-Mobile in April. According to reports, Softbank could sell as much as $20 billion of its T-Mobile stock, or about 200 million shares, as part of a larger effort to monetize about $40 billion in assets.

Softbank acquired its Sprint stake in 2013, but the wireless company never lived up to its expectations and sold the wireless carrier to T-Mobile in April in a deal valued at $26 billion. 

Softbank has struggled of late, mainly because of bad investments made by its Vision Fund, the $100 billion venture capital arm formed by Softbank founder, chairman and CEO Masayoshi Son in 2017 to invest in leading edge technologies. Big bets on tech companies like Uber and WeWorks fizzled -- it reduced the value of its WeWork stake from $47 billion to just $2.9 billion and its Uber interest lost about $10 billion in value -- leading to an $18 billion loss for the VC arm last year.

In a Securities and Exchange Commission filing, T-Mobile said Softbank is considering several options to monetize its investment, including a private placement offering, private negotiations with T-Mobile, Deutsche Telekom or third parties, derivative or hedging transactions, margin loans or other structured transactions.

Deutsche Telekom has been speculated as a possible buyer of Softbank’s T-Mobile shares, and though it would need to sign off on some transactions, has not commented on its intentions.

T-Mobile stock, down as much as 4% in early trading Tuesday, was priced at $103.03 each (down 1.6%) by the early afternoon.