Tuesday 16 June 2020 2:51 pm

Softbank to sell down $20bn T-Mobile stake as network suffers widespread outage

Softbank is preparing to sell up to two-thirds of its stake in telecoms giant T-Mobile, it has emerged, as the network provider recovers from a major US service outage.

The Japanese investment giant is coming to the end of a major share buyback scheme, which is being funded in part by a $41bn (£33bn) plan to sell off some of its assets.

T-Mobile said in a regulatory filing that the transaction, reported to be worth $20bn, could involve some of Softbank’s stake being sold back to T-Mobile’s parent Deutsche Telekom.

Read more: Court gives green light to T-Mobile’s $59bn merger with Sprint

The mobile network operator is today waking up to calls for an investigation by the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC), after an extensive network outage that affected many of its 86m customers across the US yesterday.

FCC chairman Ajit Pai said today: “The T-Mobile network outage is unacceptable. The FCC is launching an investigation. We’re demanding answers — and so are American consumers.”

T-Mobile completed its merger with Softbank-backed Sprint in April, following a lengthy antitrust investigation by regulators.

Softbank is itself also beset by issues, after swinging to a record annual loss in March as a result of a number of soured bets made by its star Vision Fund.

Read more: Softbank triples spending on share buybacks in June to £1.4bn

However the firm is pressing on with its share buyback plan, more than tripling its purchasing to  ¥188.3bn (£1.4bn) on buying back shares between 1 June and 15 June, compared to ¥61bn for the entire month of May.

The acceleration takes the total amount spent by Softbank on share buybacks to ¥499.9bn — or £3.7bn — since March.