SoftBank shares hit historic high as online backers celebrate

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FILE PHOTO: SoftBank Corp's logo is pictured at a news conference in Tokyo

By Sam Nussey

TOKYO (Reuters) – SoftBank Group Corp shares closed at a record high on Tuesday, surpassing a peak reached at the height of the dot-com bubble, as online backers celebrated the recovery in the value of the firm’s tech portfolio.

Shares in SoftBank, a heavily weighted component of the Nikkei 225 index which is trading at 30-year highs, closed up 4% at 10,420 yen, above the record 10,111 yen reached in February 2000.

Underpinned by buybacks and with retail investors buying its shares and baseball-themed junk bonds, SoftBank’s shares have been supported by a growing number of portfolio companies listing in ebullient markets.

The Japanese conglomerate’s comeback, during which its shares have climbed almost 300% from lows hit last March as the COVID-19 pandemic roiled its portfolio, have led to celebration among its online backers.

“Roses are red, violets are blue, SoftBank haters, don’t know what to do,” wrote one prominent supporter on Twitter recently posting under the name “Masa Capital”.

“SoftBank will reach 11,000 yen by April,” wrote another on Tuesday. The group’s shares hit an intraday high of 11,000 yen in February 2000 before crashing.

Chief Executive Masayoshi Son’s own social media posts are centred on aphorisms, favouring quarterly presentations over Twitter to transmit his message, in contrast to the memes that have made Tesla CEO Elon Musk a retail investor favourite.

SoftBank’s climbing share price has pushed its market cap above $200 billion, in marked contrast to a year earlier when it slipped behind Sony Corp to third place in the index.

In the latest effort by a SoftBank-backed firm to tap markets seeing record equity raising, South Korean e-commerce firm Coupang last week filed to list in the United States and is aiming for a $50 billion valuation, a source said.

(Reporting by Sam Nussey; Editing by Ana Nicolaci da Costa)

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