Yahoo Japan, the country's biggest Internet portal and 42.6 percent
owned by SoftBank, will proceed with a planned low-cost mobile
Internet service using the eAccess mobile network, SoftBank and
Yahoo Japan said on Monday.
EAccess will also go ahead with a scheduled June 1 merger with
wireless provider Willcom Inc, another SoftBank unit.
The sale of eAccess was set to give SoftBank additional cash as it
pursues an aggressive overseas acquisition strategy. That could
include a bid for No.4 U.S. wireless carrier T-Mobile US Inc <TMUS.N>
to add to its purchase of No.3 Sprint Corp <S.N> last year.
Since the eAccess deal was announced on March 27, however, Japan's
third-largest mobile carrier has prepared a 300 billion yen bond
issue targeting Japanese retail investors. It also stands to reap a
potential windfall from a New York listing of Chinese e-commerce
company Alibaba group, highlighting its financial flexibility as it
In discussions that followed the March announcement, it was decided
that Yahoo Japan would instead offer services via the eAccess
network while leaving eAccess as a separate company to own and
operate the network infrastructure, the companies said.
Yahoo Japan President Manabu Miyasaka had said after the March
announcement that his company would need control of its own handsets
and network to achieve its goal of 10 million additional mobile
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But analysts questioned the need for the Internet company to take
over operation of a wireless network from a member of the same
group. Its shares subsequently tumbled, losing 25 percent of their
value since the announcement while Tokyo's benchmark Nikkei average
<.N225> is down 4 percent.
SoftBank, which aims to become the world's leading mobile Internet
company, holds a 99.68 percent stake in eAccess but only 33.29
percent of the voting rights due to regulatory restrictions. It
nevertheless exercises effective operating control since the
remaining voting rights are split among several holders.
($1 = 101.4600 Japanese Yen)
(Reporting by Yoshiyasu Shida and Edmund Klamann; Editing by
Chang-Ran Kim and Christopher Cushing)
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