SoftBank buyback may ease pain of quarterly loss

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SoftBank Chief Executive Masayoshi Son attends a news conference in Tokyo, Japan, November 5, 2018. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

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HONG KONG, Nov 8 (Reuters Breakingviews) - Distraction can be an effective form of pain relief. SoftBank Group (9984.T) boss Masayoshi Son was candid about the hurt of the $3.5 billion loss read more the Japanese technology investor suffered in the three months to September after big bets soured, including Korean retailer Coupang and Chinese ride-hailer Didi Global (DIDI.N). But he gave shareholders what they wanted with a new $8.8 billion share buyback programme.

The risk is that the cash balm isn’t big enough to soothe investor angst read more . SoftBank shares are down a quarter since its last $22 billion buyback plan ended in May, weakened by what Son called the “blizzard” that had hit markets, including China’s multi-pronged regulatory crackdown. The $94 billion company’s shares are languishing at a 52% discount to net asset value.

Ever the optimist, Son said he saw green shoots including the pending sale of chip designer Arm to Nvidia (NVDA.O), which faces intense scrutiny from antitrust regulators. He’ll need to put more proceeds towards a bigger buyback before investors feel the same spring-like confidence. (By Jennifer Hughes)

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Editing by Peter Thal Larsen and Oliver Taslic

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