SoftBank’s shares return to dot-com bubble era highs

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

TOKYO (Reuters) – Shares of SoftBank Group Corp rose 3% on Tuesday to reach highs last seen during the dot-com bubble, as massive buybacks help shrink the group’s persistent discount.

Shares were priced at 6,100 yen in morning trading in Tokyo, hitting levels last seen in early 2000, when speculation on internet stocks saw prices surge before crashing and wiping out most of SoftBank Chief Executive Masayoshi Son’s wealth.

The rebound comes after Son in March pledged to spend up to 2.5 trillion yen ($23 billion) on buybacks, helping lift the stock 130% from March lows.

With around 10 million SoftBank shares being shorted “we are seeing a typical short-squeeze,” said Norihiro Fujito, chief investment strategist at Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities.

Other tailwinds for the company include progress in monetizing core assets such as e-commerce firm Alibaba Group Holding to raise $41 billion to fund the buybacks and stabilize its balance sheet. The plan has caused jitters at credit-rating firms.

Alibaba’s stock price continues to appreciate, with another portfolio company – insurance startup Lemonade Inc – successfully listing in New York last week.

($1 = 107.3200 yen)

Reporting by Sam Nussey and Hideyuki Sano, Editing by Shri Navaratnam and Sherry Jacob-Phillips

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