Telco SoftBank sees stable profit, offering Son respite from virus

SoftBank Corp on Monday forecast operating profit for the current financial year at 920 billion yen or $8.6 billion, largely unchanged from a year earlier.
SoftBank 5G networkJapan’s third-largest wireless carrier is a vital source of funds for highly leveraged parent SoftBank Group Corp, which is set to post a record annual operating loss next week as Chief Executive Masayoshi Son’s tech investments curdle.

SoftBank Corp’s expectation of lacklustre profit growth reflects how demand driven by the shift to teleworking to slow the spread of the virus is being offset by a drop in traffic by mobile customers in the retail network.

SoftBank Corp reported a 32 percent rise in operating profit in the three months ended March to 116.6 billion yen.

The telco is seen as a target for SoftBank Group’s plan to raise up to $41 billion through asset sales to shore up its balance sheet. It has already pledged part of its stake as collateral for loans.

SoftBank Corp launched 5G services in March but the industry faces new competition from e-commerce firm Rakuten, which has launched aggressively low-priced plans in an attempt to take share from the three incumbents including NTT Docomo and KDDI.