Prime Minister Abe’s call for lower mobile bills wipes billions off telcos’ shares

16 Sep 2015

The Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s recent call to the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC) to consider ways of lowering mobile phone bills in the country, which he sees as becoming an increasing burden for householders, has sparked a sell-off in shares of Japanese mobile carriers and a dramatic slide in share prices. The PM’s intervention came during a Cabinet Office panel on economic policy last Friday when he declared: ‘Lightening the burden of cellphone bills and other expenses on household budgets is a critical task.’ The policy aim was met coolly by investors though, and share prices began tumbling on Monday, with the three leading cellcos – NTT DOCOMO, KDDI and Softbank Group – plus fixed line operator NTT Corp losing a combined JPY4 trillion (USD32.8 billion) over just two days. The Nikkei reports that KDDI fell 6% on Tuesday to its lowest price since February, while Softbank sank to a year-to-date low and DOCOMO shed 4% on Tuesday after dropping 10% the previous day. The three cellular giants have pulled the Nikkei Stock Average down roughly 160 points this week so far, while concerns are mounting that investors are unlikely to return until the full details and impact of Prime Minister Abe’s cost-cutting policies are made clear.