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SoftBank Corp raises $800 million through Japan's first listing of bond-type shares

FILE PHOTO: SoftBank Corp's incoming Chief Executive Officer Junichi Miyakawa in Tokyo

By Anton Bridge

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan's SoftBank Corp's bond-type shares were listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange on Thursday in the first such listing in Japan, raising a total of 120 billion yen ($799 million) on strong retail and institutional investor demand.

As of 0359 GMT, the shares were trading at 4,035 yen, above the offering price of 4,000 yen.

SoftBank CEO Junichi Miyakawa said that the money would be used to fund its medium-term plans, including building out "next generation social infrastructure".

Through such infrastructure SoftBank hopes to facilitate the development of Japanese homegrown large language models (LLMs).

On Tuesday, the telecoms firm said it had commenced operations of a computing platform through which it aims to develop an LLM in 2024.

Although classed as equity in accounting terms, the shares offer a set dividend of 2.5% and can be redeemed by SoftBank after a period of five years.

The offering was primarily aimed at retail investors and demand appears to have been strong among both retail and institutional investors.

While SoftBank did not disclose total demand, when asked about retail interest, Miyakawa said he was grateful for the level of demand. "Frankly, I was surprised."

As the shares are publicly listed, they can be purchased through the tax-efficient Nippon Individual Savings Account (NISA), unlike corporate bonds.

Joint bookrunners for the listing said this raised the appeal for individuals.

"This product has played a role in promoting the transition from savings to investment in the context of rising interest rates and the diminishing appeal of traditional bank deposits," the joint bookrunners said.

This dovetails with Japanese government policy, which has long sought to encourage the use of household savings for investment, as half of household financial assets are in cash or bank deposits.

($1 = 150.2500 yen)

(Reporting by Anton Bridge and Francis Tang; Editing by Jacqueline Wong)