Yahoo Japan to buy eAccess from SoftBank for $3.2b
Yahoo Japan Corp agreed to buy eAccess Ltd for 324 billion yen ($3.2 billion) from parent SoftBank Corp as the nation's most-visited Web portal expands in wireless data and voice businesses. Yahoo Japan will start a new service to be called "Y!mobile" that shares phone networks with SoftBank, and the transaction will go ahead once eAccess completes a merger with Willcom, Yahoo Japan said in a statement. All three companies and SoftBank are controlled by billionaire Masayoshi Son.
SoftBank, which last year paid about $22 billion for control of Sprint Corp in the US, is seeking to diversify as Japan's population ages and its home market shrinks. Son led the acquisition of eAccess for 180 billion yen in 2012 to meet demand for bandwidth as smartphone users surf the Web, watch videos and play games.
"It's mainly window dressing," said Amir Anvarzadeh, a manager of Japanese equity sales at BGC Partners Inc in Singapore. "They've kept it under the SoftBank umbrella."
Yahoo Japan will purchase about 99.7 per cent of eAccess stock, which equals about 33.3 per cent of the voting shares, according to the statement. In January 2013, SoftBank agreed to sell 66.7 per cent of voting rights to 11 companies, including a Samsung Electronics subsidiary.
Shares of Yahoo Japan fell 2.9 per cent to close at ¥549 in Tokyo on Thursday before the announcement. The benchmark Topix index rose 0.4 per cent. SoftBank, founded by Son in Tokyo in 1981 as a wholesaler of packaged computer software, has been transformed into a full- fledged telecommunication operator via acquisitions, including that of the Japanese unit of Vodafone Group Plc.
Son has explored acquiring TMobile US Inc, the fourth- largest American wireless operator, to combine with third-ranked Sprint.
SoftBank has invested in more than 1,000 companies and holds about a 37 per cent stake in Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, the Chinese e-commerce operator that has been valued at as much as $200 billion. Yahoo Japan got more than half of last fiscal year's sales from advertising. SoftBank owns 43 per cent and Yahoo! Inc. 35 per cent, according to data. In June, Yahoo Japan said it's targeting a 77 per cent increase in earnings during the next six years by expanding its e-commerce business, where it competes with Rakuten, and offering more services for smartphones and tablet computers.