Japan’s dominant telecoms group NTT has announced plans to buy back around JPY100 billion (USD900 million) worth of shares, allowing the government to reduce its 45.9% stake in the operator. The company plans to pay for the shares at Tuesday’s closing price of JPY539,000 with the funds it received from selling its shares in mobile subsidiary NTT DoCoMo last month when the cellco undertook its own JPY195 billion share buy-back programme. The Japanese government has been looking to reduce its stake in NTT for a number of years, but has been prevented from doing so since the stock market took a plunge in 1999. It says it hopes to sell 85,000 shares in NTT once the buy back is complete.
In a separate story, Japan’s handset market grew by 25% in the year to the end of August 2003, as demand for 3G and camera phones soared. According to the Japan Electronics and Information Technology Industries Association (JEITA), the number of handset shipments reached 4.148 million at the end of August – the tenth straight month of gains.