June 12, 2020 / 7:29 AM / 21 days ago

SoftBank share buybacks near $3 billion despite May slowdown

FILE PHOTO: The logo of SoftBank Group Corp is displayed at SoftBank World 2017 conference in Tokyo, Japan, July 20, 2017. REUTERS/Issei Kato/File Photo GLOBAL BUSINESS WEEK AHEAD

TOKYO (Reuters) - SoftBank’s (9984.T) share buybacks slowed in May, a company filing showed on Friday, although total purchases to support its share price since March reached 312 billion yen (2.31 billion pounds).

The buybacks, funded by a major asset sale programme, are part of a record up to 2.5 trillion yen undertaking by SoftBank, which spent 61 billion yen buying back its shares in May, compared with 235 billion yen in April.

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“Market sentiment was strong for its underlying holdings so SoftBank may have decided to keep some powder dry,” said Kirk Boodry, analyst at Redex Research.

SoftBank Chief Executive Masayoshi Son is trying to stabilise the group, which has been hit by underperformance at some of its biggest technology investments.

The group’s earnings were reported in May, where its $100 billion Vision Fund reported a 1.9 trillion yen operating shortfall, pushing SoftBank to a record full year loss.

The company’s buybacks have caused concern at credit rating agencies, with S&P Global Ratings saying on Thursday it puts SoftBank’s financial rigour in question.

SoftBank’s shares, which have gained around 90% from their March lows, closed down 2.2% on Friday.

Reporting by Sam Nussey; Editing by David Evans, Muralikumar Anantharaman and Alexander Smith

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