SoftBank Mobile giant's net profit triples thanks to Alibaba sale

The company said net profit for the year ended in March came in at 1.43 trillion yen ($12.6 billion).

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SoftBank's flamboyant founder Masayoshi Son was among the first businessmen to meet then President-elect Donald Trump in November and pledged $50 bn to help create US jobs play

SoftBank's flamboyant founder Masayoshi Son was among the first businessmen to meet then President-elect Donald Trump in November and pledged $50 bn to help create US jobs

(AFP)
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Japanese mobile giant SoftBank on Wednesday said its full-year net profit tripled largely thanks to one-off gains from the sale of a stake in Chinese e-commerce titan Alibaba.

The company said net profit for the year ended in March came in at 1.43 trillion yen ($12.6 billion), compared with 474.17 billion yen the previous year. Operating profit rose 12.9 percent.

SoftBank said it booked 238.10 billion yen in gains from share sales in other companies, mostly resulting from the sale of a partial stake in Alibaba, China's equivalent of eBay.

The firm said last year that it planned to reduce its stake in Alibaba from 32.2 percent to about 28 percent.

In June it also sold Finnish game-maker Supercell Oy, creator of "Clash of Clans", to Chinese internet behemoth Tencent for $8.6 billion.

SoftBank also highlighted improvements in its US subsidiary Sprint -- though a strong Japanese yen offset much of the positive impact -- as well as profits booked from the acquisition last year of British iPhone chip designer ARM Holdings.

It also noted improved domestic telecom operations in Japan.

Revenue edged up 0.2 percent to 8.90 trillion yen, the company added, citing a rise in e-commerce sales from its Yahoo Japan business and the addition of the ARM business.

Overall, Softbank benefited from yen strength as that helped it pay some of its foreign currency-denominated debt.

SoftBank did not release earnings estimates for the fiscal year to March 2018.

Led by flamboyant founder Masayoshi Son, Softbank has embarked on a string of international acquisitions both big and small in recent years, while he was among the first business people to meet Donald Trump after his November election victory.

Son pledged to invest $50 billion in business and job-creation in the United States, winning open praise from the then president-elect.

Son later said the money would come from the $100 billion technology investment fund he is setting up with Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund and other partners, a move announced in mid-October.

The Japanese billionaire plans to use the SoftBank Vision Fund to invest heavily in the "internet of things", artificial intelligence and robotics.

Bloomberg News reported Wednesday that SoftBank was close to announcing the fundraising close for the massive technology fund.

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