Economic news

Japan Post Bank Shares Slump after Sources Say Parent Looking to Slash Stake

TOKYO, Feb 22 (Reuters) - Japan Post Bank shares slid more than 6% on Wednesday, a day after Reuters reported parent Japan Post Holdings was considering selling around a third of its near-90% stake in the bank in a deal which could be worth about $9 billion.

A move to sell the stake would mark the first such sale since Japan's national postal service and its two financial units - Japan Post Bank and Japan Post Insurance - were listed in 2015 in the country's biggest privatisation in about three decades.

Japan Post currently owns around 89% of the bank and is aiming to reduce the stake to around 60% by the end of March, while the bank is considering buying back some of the shares, sources told Reuters.

The deal would be worth around 1.2 trillion yen ($8.9 billion) at current market prices - the fourth-largest follow-on share sale in Japan, according to Refinitiv data going back to 2010.

"This is a big deal," said analyst Travis Lundy of Quiddity Advisors, who publishes on Smartkarma. The size of the share sale meant it was effectively like a second initial public offering (IPO), Lundy said, with Japan Post looking to broaden the base of shareholders for its banking unit.

"Japan Post Holdings can't really get out of Japan Post Bank by selling shares back to Japan Post Bank until a bunch more is in public hands," he said.

A reduction in Japan Post Holdings' stake in the banking unit to around 60% would also help Japan Post Bank meet Tokyo Stock Exchange requirements for a listing in the top section of the bourse.

Responding to the Reuters report, the two companies said they were considering "various options" but that the reported decision had not been made.

"We will make a formal announcement as soon as any decision is made," they said in similarly worded statements on Wednesday.

Shares in Japan Post Holdings were down 2.0% at the midday break in Tokyo, while the benchmark Nikkei index was down 1.3%.

As part of its privatisation, Japan Post Holdings pledged to reduce its stake in both the bank and insurance divisions to 50% or less by the end of March 2026. It reached that target for the insurance unit in 2021.

($1 = 134.7000 yen)

Reporting by Kantaro Komiya and David Dolan in Tokyo; Additional reporting by Scott Murdoch in Sydney; Writing by Chang-Ran Kim; Editing by Chris Reese, Kenneth Maxwell and Sonali Paul

Source: Reuters

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