The Wall Street Journal: SoftBank to buy back $4.8 billion in shares after pressure by Elliott

TOKYO — SoftBank Group Corp. said it would spend as much as ¥500 billion ($4.8 billion) to buy back up to 7% of its own shares, following plunging stock prices and a pressure campaign from one of the world’s most aggressive activists.

The proposed share buyback isn’t as large as the one urged by Elliott Management Corp., which had recently built a $2.5 billion stake in the Japanese tech giant and was pushing for as much as $20 billion in share purchases, The Wall Street Journal has reported. But it is SoftBank’s second major buyback in as many years — last year it repurchased ¥600 billion of its own shares — and is a sign of the company’s continued attempts to shore up a market capitalization that for years has languished below the value of its accumulated investment holdings.

The announcement didn’t do much immediately to stem the tumble in SoftBank shares

9984, -1.46%

 , which have plummeted in recent days along with the rout in markets overall. SoftBank’s shares were 6.9% lower at the end of morning trading, versus an 8% fall in Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 index

NIK, -3.22%

 .

Many of SoftBank’s investors have turned critical of the company in recent months, after a series of high-profile stumbles in its $100 billion Vision Fund, the tech industry’s biggest investment fund. Elliott had asked for better governance and greater transparency at the Vision Fund, and some analysts had suggested the company would be better off spending money on share buybacks than further tech investments.

An expanded version of this report appears on WSJ.com:

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